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The Man Who Defeated Napoleon 






First Edition 




After Bonaparte, Alexander is the 
greatest historical figure of the Napoleonic era. 


Do you recall our Agamemnon's flight 
On eagle's wings from Paris captive? 
How great he was, and how attractive, 
What ecstasy evoked his sight, 
The people's friend, their freedom's savior! 








vii. "EN GARDE" 109 







xiv. JOURNEY'S END 221 



INDEX 293 


EMPEROR ALEXANDER I IN 1805 Frontispiece 

Facing page 




















IN THE dark sky of a March night in the year of grace, 1801, 
turbulent clouds like evil spirits danced their witch dance about 
Mikhailovsky Castle, home of the mad Emperor Paul I. The 
chain bridge was drawn; the steel-like water of the moat glit- 
tered grimly in the half -melted snow against the red walls of 
the heavy turreted castle. Motionless sentries mounted guard. 
With the fall of darkness, His Majesty the Emperor and 
Autocrat of All the Russias had barricaded himself behind the 
strong walls of his residence, frightened by the howling of the 
wind through the turrets, by the shimmering of the lights 
through the trees of his park, by the footsteps echoing along the 
narrow corridors. He distrusted everyone in his empire, includ- 
ing his son and heir to his throne, Alexander everyone, that is, 
with but one exception, Count Pahlen, Military Governor of 
St. Petersburg. Not for a single moment did he ever forget that 
his father, Emperor Peter III, had been strangled by the apelike 
hands of Count Orlov, his mother's lover. Thus he, an emperor, 
lived the life of a frightened hare, a voluntary prisoner in Mi- 
khailovsky Castle. 



The five years of Emperor Paul's reign had terrorized 
Russia. No one was sure of his future. Officers of the Guards 
always provided themselves with some ready money when go- 
ing on duty in the palace lest they should be exiled to Siberia 
directly from there. Haunted by fear, the emperor suspected 
his entire entourage. As a result, his orders were often contra- 
dictory. After having fought side by side with England against 
the hated revolutionary, Napoleon, he then turned his hatred 
against England and suggested to this same Napoleon a plan to 
invade India. No wonder that a contemporary French print 
portrayed him issuing diversified orders to his generals under 
the caption: "Ordre contre ordre desordre" 

Born in 1754, in the reign of Empress Elizabeth, Paul spent a 
lonely childhood. He was neglected by his mother, Catherine II, 
who had to fight her way to the throne through a multitude of 
court intrigues, full of suspicion, distrust and even high treason. 
At an early age, nineteen, he had married Princess Wilhelmine, 
daughter of the landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt. She was to be 
known as the Grand Duchess Nathalia Alexeyevna. The ab- 
normal state of affairs prevailing in the Russian Empire where, 
after the murder of Peter III, Catherine had proclaimed herself 
reigning empress in place of Paul, the rightful heir, very soon 
suggested a daring plan to Nathalia Alexeyevna. 

With the help of some high dignitaries of the empire the 
brothers Panin, Princess Dashkov, Prince Repnin and a num- 
ber of dissatisfied officers of the Guards she conspired to over- 
throw the rule of Catherine and to restore the rights of Paul. 
The plot failed. One of the conspirators revealed it to Count 
Orlov. Paul had already approved a constitution, which was 
drafted by Panin; had signed and sealed it. Then one day Paul 


was summoned before his mother and, under pressure, con- 
fessed everything, betraying his wife and their fellow conspir- 
ators. This marked the beginning of open warfare between the 
gre^t empress and her daughter-in-law, which ended only with 
the death of the Grand Duchess Nathalia Alexeyevna, less 
than a year later, when she gave birth to a still-born child. 

Paul did not remain a widower long. As early as 1 776 he mar- 
ried Sophie-Dorothea, Princess of Wiirttemberg, who took 
the name Maria Fyodorovna. In this second wife Paul found 
a worthy companion; but the gulf already existing between 
Catherine and her son grew greater. Paul never forgave his 
mother the humiliation she caused by forcing him to betray his 
first wife. This wound caused him deeper suffering than the 
murder of his father. From then on there were two courts, two 
opposed camps: that of the empress in St. Petersburg and that 
of Paul in Gatchina, situated some thirty miles from the capital. 
Everyone who was dissatisfied at the Great Court joined the 
Little Court. It was as though the Middle Ages had been re- 
vived and a powerful and almost independent vassal were dis- 
puting the authority of his suzerain. 

Embittered, distrustful, Paul grew more suspicious day by 
day. He formed his own guard, a military corps under his per- 
sonal command, and spent his time drilling, parading, march- 
ing, training his troops in the manner set forth by his beloved 
hero, Frederick the Great of Prussia. In this little corps every- 
thing differed from the rest of the Russian army, even the uni- 
forms which were patterned after those of the Prussians. Paul 
loved perfect alignment, the goose step of his regiments passing 
by. He loved his officers, who were devoted to him; and as 
much as he could be said to trust any group, he trusted this one. 


It seems that he had good reason for his suspicions, however. 
In Gatchina, Paul was surrounded by Catherine's spies, because 
the great empress knew that she had no legitimate right to oc- 
cupy the throne of Russia and had never forgotten the rather 
childish attempt on the part of her son to overthrow her power. 
Nothing guaranteed her from a renewed attempt by Paul to 
secure his rightful inheritance. For this reason she deemed it 
expedient to take precautions to know exactly what was going 
on at the Little Court. Paul knew that he was spied upon and 
this knowledge created a feeling of uneasiness which developed 
later into one of constant fear. 

In his younger years Paul had suffered from hallucinations. 
His unbalanced mind had begun to be touched by the madness 
which progressed steadily as the years went by. One spring 
night he strolled through the streets of St. Petersburg, accom- 
panied by Prince Kurakin and two valets. It was one of those 
indescribable twilight nights of the north, when everything 
seems unreal, when things assume indefinable shapes, when 
well-known faces are transfigured by that strange eeriness of 
the northern light. Paul and Kurakin were conversing with 
animation. One valet preceded, another followed them. Sud- 
denly at the turn of a street Paul noticed a tall, dark figure, clad 
in a long military cape and cocked hat. Approaching on his left 
it fell into step with him. The effect on Paul was terrifying. 
After some hesitation he started a conversation with the ghost, 
although Kurakin assured him emphatically that the whole 
thing was merely a product of his imagination. The stranger 
called Paul an unhappy prince who would not live long. He 
told him that he should follow the dictates of his conscience, 
the best guide for a noble heart. Paul, completely enthralled 


by his hallucination, followed this creation of his disordered 
mind through the silent and deserted streets of the capital, until 
they reached the monument of Peter the Great erected by 
Catherine. Here Paul heard the last words of the stranger, 
"Good-by, Paul, you will see me again here and elsewhere," 
and suddenly recognized in the phantom the features of his great 
ancestor. In later years this hallucination repeated itself many 
times. Paul conceived the idea that he had been called by the 
shadow of his great ancestor to continue Peter's work, to re- 
store chivalry, to fight the evils of his mother's reign. That is 
why he had ordered a statue of Peter the Great to be erected 
in the inner court of Mikhailovsky Castle. 

When Paul, at the age of forty-three, ascended the throne 
of Russia following the death of Catherine the Great, the gulf 
which had existed between St. Petersburg and Gatchina was 
transformed into one between the emperor and his empire. In 
the first year of his reign he instituted certain reforms which 
were both wise and far-reaching. But the twenty years of silent 
war between St. Petersburg and Gatchina, surrounded by dis- 
trust, spying and treason, finally bore fruit. Paul's mind began 
to fade. He lost himself in details and tried to regulate every 
phase of life, if not in the whole of his empire, at least in his 
capital. Not satisfied with giving orders to his army as to how 
to polish buttons, how to powder wigs and what kind of thread 
to use for repairs of uniforms, he rigidly prescribed the dress 
of the civilian population, forbidding under the penalty of im- 
prisonment the wearing of garments that had been introduced 
into Europe after the French Revolution. His mind, in its de- 
lirium, conceived the absurd idea of stopping the flow of time. 

His outbursts of anger were terrible. For the slightest mis- 


take or for merely a word that happened to displease him, high 
dignitaries of the empire were exiled to their estates, officers 
and officials sent to Siberia. The most careful and tactful, the 
most wise and skillful of his contemporaries met only abject 
failure in their diplomatic efforts with him. 

Once when residing in Pavlovsk, the country home of Em- 
press Maria Fyodorovna, he signified his desire to go out for 
a walk. The empress remarked casually that it was going to 
rain and that it would be better for him to stay in the palace. 
Paul then turned to Count Stroganov and asked him whether 
he thought it would rain. The count was the descendant of the 
famous Stroganov family which in the sixteenth century had 
won to the Russian rulers territory exceeding that of all the 
rest of Europe. Stroganov, considered to be the wisest man at 
court, went out to observe the sky and returned with the answer 
that the sky was clouded and in consequence it would probably 
rain. Paul flew into a rage. "Ah," he said, "I see that you are 
conniving with the empress expressly to annoy me. I am sick 
of such falsehoods on your part. You never wanted to under- 
stand me, to please me. However, I know that you are more 
wanted at Perm than here, and recommend your urgent de- 
parture to your estates. I hope that this time you will under- 
stand me." This was a mild way of sending one of the most 
important and most useful men of the empire into exile. 

Paul's anger knew no bounds when anyone had the au- 
dacity to appear before him in a uniform differing from the 
one he had prescribed. Generals, high officials, even princes 
of the empire, were deprived of their ranks, titles and honors 
for such disobedience. Even foreign representatives were not 
immune. Tauentzien, the Prussian envoy, appeared at a court 


ball in a uniform which displeased Emperor Paul. He had to 
leave St. Petersburg the same evening, having been given his 
passports and sent back to Berlin. Nobody felt secure under 
the rule of Paul I. Alexander, his son, actually trembled with 
fear whenever he had to lead his regiment on parade before 
the emperor. He and his brother, Grand Duke Constantine, 
were very often humiliated by their father in the very presence 
of their troops, when Paul would send his aides-de-camp to 
deliver such imperial messages as "brute," "animal/ 9 "idiot," 
"fool" to his sons. 

No wonder that the minds of the people were gradually 
shaped to accept as inevitable the thought that the only way 
to safeguard themselves and the rest of the country from ar- 
bitrary and insane rule was to dethrone the emperor. When 
Count Pahlen decided to organize a conspiracy, he found many 
willing to help him and the cause of Russia. There was no 
better man than Pahlen to be leader of such a plot. Cool rea- 
soning, a talent for organization and boldness characterized 
this man, a Baltic German by origin, who changed the fate of 
Russia. By virtue of his position as Military Governor of the 
Capital, he was in control of the police, and was able, in case 
of need, to suppress all information about the conspiracy if 
ever the police were to discover the plot. 

It is said that a few days before his murder, Emperor Paul 
received a complete report on the conspiracy which contained 
all the names and pointed to Count Pahlen as the leader. Count 
Pahlen did not deny it, when questioned by the emperor, but 
said that the very fact that he was a party to the conspiracy 
guaranteed Emperor Paul's complete safety. Phalen's ascend- 
ancy over the emperor, who trusted him implicitly, was so 


great that his statement restored Paul's full confidence and 
thus annihilated the possible disastrous effect of the betrayal. 

From the beginning Pahlen proceeded with caution. One 
by one, men faithful to Emperor Paul were sent away from the 
capital. Count Arakcheyev and Count Rostopchin, "the men of 
Gatchina," were exiled to their estates and new persons were 
appointed to fill their places. At the same time all those who had 
belonged to Catherine's regime, and who hated Paul for the 
humiliations he had inflicted upon them when he ascended 
the throne, gradually gathered in St. Petersburg. Thus, all 
members of the Zubov family, through the intercession of 
Count Pahlen, were permitted to return to the capital and re- 
gained their position at court. Paul believed in Pahlen's loyalty 
to such an extent that he did everything the latter proposed to 
him. Barricaded in Mikhailovsky Castle, Paul left all the affairs 
of the empire in the hands of Pahlen, who was made Minister 
of Foreign Affairs and Director of the Post, thereby enabling 
him to control not only the capital, as he continued to be Mili- 
tary Governor of St. Petersburg, but also the rest of Russia. 

During the winter, 1800-1801, the people of St. Petersburg 
lived under extreme nervous tension. Officers of the Guards and 
high dignitaries of the empire would gather at dinner parties 
and discuss politics a thing unheard of theretofore because 
of the police system and the time-honored institution of spies. 
Pahlen attended many of these meetings mainly in quest of men 
for his conspiracy. He wanted men of action, resolute, bold, 
but not those who were using their tongues too freely. One day 
while dining with Count Pahlen, Sablukov, an officer of the 
Horse Guards who was devoted to Paul and who was suspicious 
of certain things he had observed in the capital, wanted to put 


Pahlen to the test and spoke critically about the emperor with- 
out, however, a happy choice of terms and expressions. Pahlen 
looked at him sharply and said: "Jean fichu qui parle et brave 
bomme qui agit" l 

By February the stage was set, but Pahlen wanted to be sure 
that the Grand Duke Alexander would not oppose his plans 
and refuse to occupy a throne vacated by murder. It was obvious 
to Pahlen that he could not risk the possibility of anarchy in 
case Alexander proved to be stubborn. So he proceeded to win 
the heir to the throne of all the Russias to his cause. By pouring 
salt into the wound of humiliation which had never healed in 
Alexander's heart, Pahlen succeeded in preparing the grand 
duke for a possible change of rule in the Russian Empire, in- 
timating that Paul was insane and that it would be best to force 
his abdication. But even if Pahlen could have counted to a degree 
on meeting no opposition from Alexander, he was never able 
to bring the young man to favor the conspiracy openly. To the 
very last moment he had to be prepared for every eventuality 
lest Alexander should turn against him. 

Living in complete seclusion in Mikhailovsky Castle to such 
an extent that to avoid going out he had ordered Princess Ga- 
garin, his mistress, to occupy an apartment in the castle just 
beneath his own which communicated with it by a secret stair- 
case, Paul had insisted that members of his family should share 
his voluntary prison. Empress Maria Fyodorovna had to submit 
to this unnatural state of affairs, although it is admitted that 
Paul never pushed his favorite forward to such an extent as to 
embarrass the empress. Still, he feared that his wife might be- 
come resentful and join hands with his enemies. Therefore, as a 

1 "Lost is he who speaks; brave, he who acts." 


means of self-protection, a few days before the fatal night, he 
ordered the door between his bedroom and that of the empress 
to be closed and barricaded. Perhaps this measure cost him his 

In the evening of March 2 3, 1 80 1 , the emperor dined with his 
family. The meal was eaten in silence except for the bitter words 
with which, from time to time, Paul addressed his sons, Alex- 
ander and Constantine. The emperor accused them of conspir- 
ing against him, and at the end of the dinner, in a rage, arrested 
both of them and sent them to their apartments in the castle. 
Both Alexander and Constantine had an overpowering fear of 
their father. Those tall, strong, young men were simply terror- 
ized by Paul, a short man of no physical strength, whose pale 
blue eyes were haggard and whose gestures were nervous and 

On this same evening, the conspirators met in small groups 
for dinner accompanied by many libations. Later they gathered 
for supper at which Count Pahlen and General Bennigsen were 
present. Here Count Pahlen said, "Rappelez-vous, messieurs, 
que pour manger (Tune omelette il faut commencer par casser 
les oeitfs" 2 The one hundred and eighty conspirators received 
this admonition in silence. More wine and champagne were to 
give them additional courage, but some had already taken too 
much. About midnight most of the regiments on the side of the 
conspiracy marched to Mikhailovsky Castle. They were led 
by the Semyonovsky Regiment which eventually occupied all 
the inner posts in the corridors and passages of the castle. Their 
sullen march through the night along the deserted streets was 

2 "Remember, gentlemen, that in order to eat an omelette, one first has to 
break the eggs." 


watched only by the clouds in a somber fury. The conspira- 
tors left the table soon after midnight and proceeded in sleighs 
across the sleeping town. When they reached the gloomy 
castle, Count Pahlen left them and went into Alexander's apart- 
ments on the ground floor, assigning the leadership to General 

The signal for the intrusion into the private apartments of 
Emperor Paul was to be given by Archamakov, Adjutant of 
the Grenadier Battalion of the Preobrazhensky Regiment, 
whose duty it was to inform the emperor of fires breaking out 
in the city. On the prescribed hour Archamakov rushed into the 
vestibule of the emperor's private apartment and shouted 
"Fire!" At the same moment the conspirators made their way 
to the emperor's bedroom. 

That very evening the emperor had dismissed, on Pahlen's 
advice, the men from the Horse Guards on duty at the palace 
and replaced them by two valets stationed at the door leading 
into his bedroom. These men put up a fight, and one of them 
was killed, the other wounded. The door into the bedroom was 
a double one, the entrance to the secret staircase that led to the 
apartment of Princess Gagarin being between the two doors. 
The first was open, the second locked from inside. Having 
forced the second door, the conspirators burst into the emperor's 
bedroom. It was empty. Yet Paul could not have escaped, as the 
only other door to the bedroom leading into the private apart- 
ments of the empress had been barred by his express orders. 

The conspirators were searching the room in vain when 
General Bennigsen, a very tall and phlegmatic German from the 
Baltic provinces, went to the open fireplace and, leaning upon 
the mantelpiece, suddenly discovered the emperor hiding be- 


hind the screen. Bennigsensaid calmly, "Le voilH" 8 The others 
dragged the emperor from his hiding place. Prince Platon Zubov 
then addressed the emperor and demanded his abdication. Paul, 
entirely composed, began to argue with him. This dialogue 
with death as the judge continued for more than half an hour 
until the other conspirators, who had had too much champagne, 
tired and demanded action. As the discussion became very 
heated and Paul raised his voice, Count Nicholas Zubov, a man 
of powerful build and enormous physical force, struck Paul on 
the hand, saying brutally, "Why do you yell like this?" The 
emperor then like a valiant but unfortunate David pushed 
Zubov's hand aside. At this Zubov, grasping a heavy golden 
snuffbox, administered a terrific blow on Paul's left temple. The 
emperor fell to the ground. Zubov's French valet then jumped 
on the unconscious man and Skariatin, an officer of the Izmailov- 
sky Regiment, reached for the emperor's scarf which hung 
over his bed. So they strangled him, Paul I, Emperor and Auto- 
crat of All the Russias. 

There he is." 



HUMILIATED, his pride repeatedly wounded, hating, still fear- 
ing, Alexander did not think of his father, while he lived, as the 
defender of ancient chivalry, as a man endowed with a noble 
heart, or as the Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias by the 
Grace of God. To Alexander, Paul had become a nightmare, 
a tyrant, a willful oppressor of all that was so near and dear to 
the heart of the young grand duke, although Paul had often 
shown his will and courage and, even more, a chivalrous nature. 
At the time when war was raging in western Europe and 
Russia had joined the coalition of powers against revolutionary 
France, Paul had made an official offer to General Napoleon 
Bonaparte to settle the dispute by a duel between them in order 
to stop the shedding of blood of their respective subjects. Not- 
withstanding the seeming absurdity of such an offer and its 
untimeliness, most of the crowned rulers of Europe and even 
Napoleon himself recognized the noble motive of the Russian 

Under arrest in his own apartment in Mikhailovsky Castle, 


Alexander must have pondered the fate that awaited him. If 
the conspiracy succeeded, it meant a crown; but first of all it 
meant freedom from oppression. If the conspiracy failed, it 
meant more humiliation and dishonor, perhaps even imprison- 
ment and death. But should he accept a throne upon which he 
would feel himself a usurper? Would it not be more consistent 
with his ideals and inclinations to renounce all his rights of suc- 
cession and to live the simple and uneventful life of an ordinary 
citizen? He had always dreamed of doing just this. On May 22, 
1796, he had written to his friend and confidant, Count Ko- 

I am thoroughly displeased with my situation. ... It is 
far too brilliant for my character, which fits much better with 
a life of peace and quiet. Court life is not for me. I feel miser- 
able in the society of such people, whom I should not like to 
have even as my valets. At the same time they occupy the 
highest offices in the empire. In one word, my dear friend, 
I am aware that I was not born for the high position I now 
occupy and even less for that which awaits me in the future 
and I have sworn to myself to renounce it in one way or an- 
other. . . . The affairs of state are in complete disorder; 
graft and embezzlement are everywhere; all departments are 
badly managed; order seems to have been expelled from all 
parts of the country, but notwithstanding all this the Empire 
tends only toward expansion. Is it possible, therefore, for one 
man to administer the state, even more to reform it and to 
abolish the long existing evils? To my mind it is beyond the 
power of a genius, not to speak of a man with ordinary 
capacities, like myself. Taking all this into consideration I 


have arrived at the aforementioned decision. My plan consists 
in abdicating (I cannot say when) and in settling with my 
wife on the shores of the Rhine to live the life of a private 
citizen devoting my time to the company of my friends and 
to the study of nature. 

Alexander had written so when his grandmother, Catherine 
the Great, was still on the throne. Was this only a dream of a 
young man of nineteen? It would seem not, for the dream of 
his youth remained with Alexander during his entire life. But 
on the eve of Paul's murder, Alexander could not bring him- 
self to any decision as to his own future, because in all the pre- 
ceding years he had been trained on the one hand to cherish 
dreams and on the other to act realistically according to circum- 

Alexander was born on December 24, 1777. Shortly after- 
ward he was taken away from his mother by Empress Cather- 
ine, who wanted to give him an education in conformity with 
the ideas of the French philosophers of the time, i.e., based on 
the laws of reason and the principles of nature. Emile by Jean 
Jacques Rousseau was the textbook used by Catherine in edu- 
cating young Alexander. The great empress wanted to mold 
her grandson for his important mission as ruler after her own 
ideas rather than those of her son, Paul, whom she wished to 
thrust aside in order to give the throne to Alexander. He, she 
believed, would continue the traditions of his grandmother 
rather than those of Paul, embittered and hateful at his Little 
Court in Gatchina. 

While trying to develop the natural gifts of the child, Cath- 
erine wished him to grow up a little Spartan, fully equipped to 


sustain the physical strain due to fall upon the ruler of a mili- 
tarized empire. In order to accustom him to the roar of guns she 
placed Alexander in a room of the Winter Palace with windows 
facing the Admiralty. The child was forced to hear at close 
range the cannonade which took place at the Admiralty on 
every festive occasion and festive occasions were numerous. 
Unfortunately for Alexander, although he became accustomed 
to artillery fire, the membranes of his ears proved too weak to 
sustain this strain; the result was a deafness in one ear that 
was to remain with him for the rest of his life. But in other 
ways the vigorous physical training of the boy proved bene- 

From his earliest childhood Alexander slept, very lightly 
covered, in a room with the windows wide open. The mattress 
in his crib was of morocco leather filled with hay; and all 
through his life he slept on a similar one, always carrying it 
with him on his journeys and campaigns. This undoubtedly 
accounted in no small measure for the extraordinary health and 
vitality enjoyed by him. It is interesting to compare his 
childhood training with that of his father. Paul, at birth, was 
also taken away from his mother by Empress Elizabeth and 
placed in a room adjoining hers. In this room, which was 
always kept very warm, wrapped in flannel and covered with 
three blankets, one of silk, another of fur, and still another of 
velvet, he reposed in a crib upholstered with the furs of black 
foxes. No wonder that while constantly perspiring under such 
covers, Paul grew up a physical weakling, subject in later years 
to colds with the slightest change of wind or temperature. 

Thus Catherine was responsible for the child Alexander's 
excellent physical upbringing, but his education remained far 


from adequate. The well-known Russian historians, Kluchev- 
sky, Shilder, and Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich, concur 
in the opinion that Alexander did not receive the kind of edu- 
cation that would have best prepared him for the important 
position to which he was destined. Catherine invited Colonel 
La Harpe, a Swiss republican, and an enthusiastic though care- 
ful admirer of the ideas of the French revolution, to be Alex- 
ander's principal tutor. Michael Nikitich Muravyov was invited 
to instruct the grand duke in Russian and classical studies. 

Although Muravyov was a very cultured man, well read, a 
writer of some repute, he was thoroughly unfitted to be a 
teacher. He began to read with Alexander and his brother 
Constantine, two years Alexander's junior, Latin and Greek 
authors like Demosthenes, Plutarch, Tacitus and the works of 
French and English philosophers of the time. Throughout his 
teachings he impressed upon his pupils lofty ideas about supreme 
human rationality, the welfare of humanity, the origins of 
society, the equality of man, the evils of despotism, of serfdom, 
etc. The practical Constantine escaped the influence of this 
liberal ideology, but the more sensitive Alexander was maimed 
for life. It must be borne in mind that all this food for thought 
was given to a boy between twelve and fourteen years of age 
to a youth who could not possibly digest it and had to accept 
it as it was. At such an early period of life when boys live almost 
entirely by direct impressions and manifestations of their in- 
stincts, abstract ideas are transformed in their minds into con- 
crete images, moral principles into actual feelings. The sort of 
instruction that La Harpe and Muravyov were giving to young 
Alexander gave him no real knowledge; neither did it train his 
mind logically nor introduce him to the historical present. In 


a word, it could not yet stimulate and seriously direct his 
thoughts. The elevated ideas of his two tutors were transformed 
in the mind of the twelve-year-old boy into a political fable 
which filled his imagination with images and moved his heart 
with feelings too mature for one of his tender years. 

Alexander was taught how to feel and how to behave and not 
how to think and act. He was never given scientific or everyday 
problems to solve. He received for every question a ready-made 
answer political and moral canons, indisputable truths which 
he had but to follow blindly. His brain was never put to the 
exercise of individual thinking but on the contrary absorbed 
like a sponge the distilled essence of western European thought. 
The grand duke never knew actual schoolwork with its tiny 
but important miseries and joys; he never experienced the strife 
of a schoolboy with his textbooks, the victories and defeats on 
the cold white pages of a copy book those victories and de- 
feats which alone, perhaps, give to the school its real edu- 
cational importance. Alexander had read a great deal, had lis- 
tened to even more, but he had never studied. It is easy, 
therefore, to understand why with the passing of years the 
idyllic picture painted for his youthful imagination by La 
Harpe and Muravyov gradually became a dream, all the more 
cherished because the realities of life with which Alexander 
came into contact were so far removed from all that had filled 
his heart and mind. 

Alexander was not only the grandson of Catherine, but also 
the son of Paul, and his position between the two courts was 
a very awkward one. Every Friday, Alexander and his brother 
Constantine had had to go to Gatchina. There every Saturday 


a parade of troops took place. It consisted in a merciless drilling 
of men in which both grand dukes were forced to participate. 
The first battalion was commanded by Paul himself, the second 
by Alexander and the third by Constanrine. After the parade, 
the grand dukes returned to St. Petersburg. From military 
maneuvers on a parade ground to the refined salons of Catherine, 
from an almost puritan atmosphere such as prevailed in Gat- 
china, to the libertine, fin de siecle surroundings of the Court of 
St. Petersburg, where high politics were discussed between 
the showing of the latest French play and the telling of the 
latest French joke, Alexander had to move smoothly, to be one 
with his father, another with his grandmother the eternal 
Janus, adding to the two faces of the Greek god a third, his own. 
How remote was this school of life from the idyllic school 
through which Alexander went under the direction of La 
Harpe and Muravyov. No wonder that leading such a dual life 
Alexander sooner or later had to pay its price. 

The years spent between Gatchina and St. Petersburg, in- 
stead of strengthening his character, weakened it, made it flex- 
ible, adaptable to such an extent that Alexander himself did 
not know sometimes what he wanted to do. Bogdanovich, the 
Russian historian, wrote: 

The character of Alexander I was composed of different 
and even sharply contrasting elements: Christian humility 
and pompousness, frivolity and studious activity, kindness 
and resentf ulness, persisting in his opinion about people who 
once displeased him. But with all these different and change- 
able elements of his character, the dominating note was an 


extraordinary art of knowing the right way to approach 
people, a remarkable ability to charm the hearts of all with 
whom he came in contact. 

Such ability to charm, however, was attained only after long 
schooling in which affairs of the heart also played an important 
part. When Alexander reached his fifteenth year, the great 
Catherine deemed it expedient to have him married. She was 
aware that in the peculiar atmosphere of her court the young 
prince's passions had been, aroused earlier than was usual, and 
she considered it necessary to protect Alexander from the court 
amourettes by giving him a wife. The youthful bride chosen 
for the future Eipperor of All the Russias was Louisa- Augusta, 
Princess of Baden-Duriach, third daughter of Prince Karl- 
Friedrich, heir to the throne of the Duchy of Baden, and of 
*his wife, Amalia, Princess % of Hesse-Darmstadt. Princess Louisa, 
who was to be known as Elisabeth Alexeyevna, very soon won 
everyone's heart. Not only did Alexander gradually fall in love 
with her, but Empress Catherine, all her court, and even Paul 
and Maria Fyodorovna, Alexander's parents, could not find 
enough praise to express their delight at having found such a 
worthy companion for the young grand duke. Indeed, accord- 
ing to the testimony of contemporaries, Elisabeth was extremely 
attractive. "I have not seen anything more delightful and sylph- 
like than her waist, her agile movements and her pleasing be- 
havior," wrote Count Komarovsky. Others stated that her 
features were fine and regular a classic profile, large blue 
eyes, a perfect oval-shaped face. She had beautiful blonde hair, 
a graceful figure and an extraordinary lightness in all her move- 
ments. In addition to all these qualities she possessed also a very 


soft and melodious voice. No wonder Catherine called her a 
siren and remarked that her voice had the faculty of enveloping 
one's very heart. 

On October 10, 1793, the two young people were married. 
Alexander was sixteen, his bride barely fifteen. Catherine wrote 
to Prince de Ligne: "It was the wedding of Psyche and Cupid." 

The first years of Alexander's married life seem to have been 
fairly happy. The young couple had two children two daugh- 
ters, who died in infancy. The son whom all Russia desired was 
never born. With years, however, the "ideal" match, like so 
many similar ones, proved to be an unfortunate one. 

One evening at one of the soirees intimes, so much favored 
by Empress Catherine that they had almost replaced the big 
receptions except upon extraordinary occasions, Alexander 
conversed with his friend and aide-de-camp, Prince Adam 
Czartoryski, in the winter garden at Catherine's palace. The 
soft music of a distant string orchestra reached them in a faint 
melodious whisper. Exotic plants exhaled a strange, penetrating 
aroma. Their unfamiliar forms stretched high to the glass ceiling 
through which one could see the cold glitter of the northern 
stars. The air was warm and damp. A small fountain mixed its 
gentle splashes with the strains of the music. The garden was 
lighted by sof tly shaded candles, well hidden behind the large 
leaves of tropical plants. One could imagine himself in distant 
lands where life seemed the more attractive because unknown, 
where people had not the worries of young princes already bent 
under the burden of future leadership, where eyes and smiles 
were frank and open and need not assume the rigidity of the 
mask, where women chose their lovers and men their wives, 
where blood ran faster and the joy of living mingled with the 


deep languid notes of passionate music. Alexander must have 
been under such impressions that evening; his glance was vague 
and his heart beat faster than usual, although the theme of his 
conversation with Prince Adam was hardly exciting a com- 
parison of the uniforms adopted by the Court of St. Petersburg 
and those of Gatchina! 

Suddenly, Alexander heard approaching footsteps, and think- 
ing he was about to be reprimanded for his isolation in the 
winter garden, he rose quickly. The next minute he realized 
his mistake. He heard a woman's voice and saw two young girls 
appear in the open space near the fountain. They were both very 
beautiful, but it was the elder who captured Alexander's fancy. 
At the sight of the grand duke they became visibly embarrassed 
and after performing a deep curtsy, they retired in haste to the 
salons of the palace. Alexander remained motionless and stared 
long in the direction they had taken. His mind retained the 
vision of a slender figure, of beautifully shaped, statuesque 
shoulders revealed by the court dress, of a mass of black hair 
and a pair of dark fiery eyes. Blood rushed to his head and a 
crimson flush colored his cheeks. He sat down again on the 
bench and covertly scrutinized the face of his friend to see if 
Prince Adam had noticed what had happened. But the prince's 
face revealed nothing to alarm Alexander. Prince Adam was not 
only a gentleman but also a born courtier. Reassured, Alex- 
ander asked Czartoryski whether he knew the young women. 
"The one with the black tresses is Princess Maria Sviatopolk- 
Chetvertinsky, lady in waiting to Her Imperial Majesty," was 
the reply. "She is my compatriot. Her father was hanged by the 
mob two years ago because he was a faithful friend of Russia. 


She is an orphan and Her Imperial Majesty has taken her under 
her protection." 

Late that night Alexander evoked the fugitive beauty of 
Princess Maria; her deep voice, somewhat veiled, sounded in 
his ears like exotic music from distant lands. The large dark eyes 
and long black tresses of the young Polish princess almost 
erased from his heart the angelic beauty of Elisabeth, and very 
soon they were to occupy an important place there for many 
years to come. 

It is interesting to note that both Alexander and Napoleon, 
the man whom he was destined to fight and to defeat, found 
solace from their unhappy marital ventures in the embraces of 
two beautiful daughters of Poland. But the fair Alexander was 
less fortunate in his choice of Princess Maria Chetvertinsky, 
who was unfaithful to him, than the dark-haired Corsican with 
his blonde Countess Maria Walewska, who even followed him 
in his exile at Elba. 

Princess Maria Antonovna Sviatopolk-Chetvertinsky became 
the wife of Dimitry Naryshkin, who belonged to one of the 
noblest families of Russia. Sometime after her marriage, in 1 804, 
Maria Naryshkin became Alexander's mistress and remained 
his official companion not only with the tacit consent and 
knowledge of her own husband but also with that of Elisabeth. 
Maria Antonovna bore three children to Alexander, two daugh- 
ters and one son. The eldest daughter, Zinaida, died as a child, in 
June, 1810; the second, Sophia, whom Alexander adored, and 
who had inherited her mother's beauty, died from consumption 
at the age of seventeen in 1824, on the very eve of her marriage 
with Count Andrey Shuvalov; the son, Emmanuel, enjoyed 


a long life. He died as Chief Marshal of the Household in the 
reign of the last emperor of Russia, Nicholas II. 

Throughout his life Alexander captivated the imagination 
and captured the hearts of the fair sex. His charm was irresist- 
ible. It would not be an exaggeration to state that there was not 
a single young woman who, meeting Alexander, did not fall 
in love with him either secretly or openly. Even in his own 
family, his charm had disastrous effects. Although all his sisters 
were extremely fond of him, it was Catherine whom he pre- 
ferred to all the others. The feelings which Alexander had for 
this sister of his were out of the ordinary and the relations which 
were established between them are revealed by their corre- 
spondence. These letters, a few excerpts from which follow, 
are extraordinary human documents. 

Alexander to Catherine 

Dear Bissiam, 1 your charming letter has given me the 
greatest of pleasure. I cannot express to you how sensible I 
am to all your friendship. I also love my dear Bissiam with 
all my heart and, oh! God knows, how anything coming 
from her touches me beyond expression. 

My good friend, your letters are each one more charming 
than the preceding ones and I cannot tell you what real 
pleasure they give me. If you say that you are mad, at least 
you are the most delightful mad girl that has ever existed. 
At first I must declare that you have completely conquered 
me and that I am mad about you. Do you hear that? Good- 
by, Bissiamovna. / adore you. 

Foolish little thing, put it out of your head that to answer 

1 Catherine's nickname. 


your letters annoys me; on the contrary it is a real pleasure, 
because there are few things in this world which I love as 
much as my Bissiam. . . . Good-by, charm of my eyes, 
adoration of my heart. . . . All yours of heart and souL 

Catherine to Alexander 

Dear Alexander, when taking hold of my pen in order to 
write to you, I felt somehow like a schoolgirl appearing be- 
fore her teacher: she scratches her head not knowing her les- 
son and especially not knowing in what sort of humor her 
master is. However, I say to myself, if he wants it, all is well, 
if not he will tell me his reasons and then we shall see. Any- 
how I say to you now: Let us be friends, Cinna, it is 1 'who 
invite you to this! . . . Good-by, Dearest, all yours. 

Alexander to Catherine 

If my letters give you pleasure, my good friend, I assure 
you that yours are really a good deed. But you are absolutely 
ridiculous when you ask me not to write to you. Be assured 
that whenever I have a free minute it is a delight for me to 
write to you. Good-by, dearest friend, all yours for life. 

Catherine to Alexander 

Forgive my foolishness, Dearest, but as you have probably 
wished me in Jericho after the last two mails, I want to regain 
your favor again by this one; I have told you my way of 
thinking. Be angry, be wild! Let God preserve you from 
being cross, because the one who is cross usually suffers all 
the pain, but love me a little always. . . . 


Alexander to Catherine 

Dear Biskis, 2 how good you arc to have written me again. 
I cannot tell you how much your letters please me, especially 
when I see from them that you behave yourself, because you 
insist upon being crazy without which you have no value 
(you know what this means) and then this is painful to me. 
It is indispensable to my happiness to be loved by you, because 
you are the most beautiful creature that has ever existed in this 
world. Good-by, dear foolishness of my soul, / adore you and 
am only afraid lest you 'will despise me. 

. . . Alas! I cannot use my former rights (it's your feet 
that are in question, do you understand?) to press most tender 
kisses on them in your bedroom at Tver. . . . 

Not only women experienced Alexander's charm and fell 
prey to its spell. When soon after his accession to the throne 
Alexander first visited Moscow, he was the object of a touch- 
ing manifestation of the love that his people had for him. One 
morning when the sun shone bright and lighted the domes of 
Moscow's churches and the turrets of the Kremlin with multi- 
colored fires, Alexander called for his horse and rode alone 
down the Tverskaya, the principal street of the ancient capital. 
He saw the busy street open before him like the unfolding of 
a panorama. East and West mingled in the shops, both in the 
costumes and in the faces of the people. At first no one seemed 
to take any notice of the young officer in the simple green uni- 
form without any decorations. Soon, however, people recog- 
nized their ruler whose attempt to imitate Harun-al-Rashid 

2 Catherine's nickname. 


did not succeed. The news spread like wildfire down the street, 
into the shops, into the houses, and very soon Alexander found 
himself surrounded by a crowd which grew larger and larger 
with every minute. 

The people pressed round him as strongly and at the same 
time as carefully as a passionate mother would press her be- 
loved child to her breast. There were no shouts, no noise. A 
gentle whisper floated over the heads of the assembled people, 
and in it the emperor could distinguish their salutations: 
"Little Father," "Our Own," "Bright Sunshine" and many 
others which represented in the language of simple people of 
Russia everything that was most dear and most tender. The 
emperor's horse, the reins, the saddle, the emperor's clothes, 
everything that was close to his person became sanctified in 
the people's imagination. They kissed therefore his horse, his 
boots, his stirrup, as they would have kissed a holy icon or 
the relics of a saint. In the East the people used to fall to the 
ground terror-stricken before their rulers, in the West some 
centuries past they used to gaze upon their kings in respectful 
silence, but only in Russia have the tsars been so boldly and 
openly adored. 

Thus to the title of Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias 
Alexander was to add also that of Charmer. In fact this is the 
surname that the people of Alexander's immediate entourage 
gave him, as reported in the memoirs of Countess de Choiseul- 
Gouffier. But Alexander the Charmer was only a mask to cover 
his complex nature. 


While the murderers of Emperor Paul were committing their 
infamous deed, Count Pahlen conversed with Alexander. The 
grand duke was under arrest and the visit of the Military Gover- 
nor of the Capital at such a late hour was anything but usual. 
When Count Pahlen appeared before young Alexander, the 
latter was still under the spell of the latest scene he had had with 
his father. He was nervous, almost trembling. He had not been 
able to sleep. Very few could sleep in Mikhailovsky Castle. 
But Pahlen reassured him and explained that he wanted to con- 
sult the grand duke on a question of great importance. 

It happened that the post of Military Governor of St. Peters- 
burg had formerly (in the first years of Paul's reign) been 
occupied by Alexander himself. Pahlen told the grand duke 
that he wished to resign his military governorship, but that 
he did not dare do so unless he knew with certainty who would 
succeed him. Pahlen wanted to know whether Alexander would 
accept this office again. Alexander understood, of course, that 
this was nothing but a pretext, and refused to commit himself 
in any way. 

As for Count Pahlen, his nocturnal visit had a very definite 
purpose. In the event that the conspiracy was successful, he 
wanted to be the first to announce the news to the new emperor; 
on the other hand, should it be a failure, he was determined to 
sacrifice Alexander in order to save himself. He would have 
arrested the grand duke and accused him of leading the con- 
spiracy. Throughout, he counted on the unlimited trust of 
Emperor Paul in his own faithfulness and on the strained re- 
lations existing between father and son. 

They talked a wise fox and a frightened hare. Suddenly the 
door flew open and one of the conspirators jubilantly entered 


the room. Before he had had time to speak, Count Pahlen arose 
and said: "His Imperial Majesty Emperor Paul is dead. I con- 
gratulate Your Imperial Majesty upon Your Majesty's acces- 
sion to the throne of his ancestors. The king is dead long live 
the king!" 



TEN DAYS had passed since Paul's death. The new emperor was 
holding his first big reception in the Winter Palace, his new 
residence, which had also been that of Catherine the Great. 
Brilliant lights flooded the large building. Sleighs and coaches 
drawn by powerful horses deposited at the main entrance of 
the palace high dignitaries of the empire, generals, staff officers, 
officials of the state. Resplendent uniforms embroidered in gold 
and silver, contrasting strangely with the deep mourning of the 
ladies, glittered in the light of thousands of candles. All eyes 
were radiant and rested with admiration and hope upon the new 

Alexander's slender figure in the green uniform of the Sem- 
yonovsky Regiment, his own regiment the same that had 
helped the conspirators moved among his guests with a shy- 
ness natural to a young man hardly accustomed to all this man- 
ifestation of admiration. His beautiful open face looked like 
that of a young Greek god, and everything about the twenty- 
four year old ruler of the mighty Russian Empire seemed to 
promise fulfillment of the expectations of his subjects and to 
raise great hopes for the coming of a new era. A festive spirit, 



a feeling of joy, animated everyone who came to this reception. 
People greeted each other with exclamations of happiness, with 
congratulations; some of them even kissed each other as if it 
were the night of Holy Easter. 

After the reception was over, Alexander, tired, his ears still 
ringing with mellow, servile words, his eyes still dazzled by the 
brilliancy of uniforms, by the shimmering stars and crosses of 
Russian and foreign decorations, went to his own study and 
sank into a chair before his desk. He closed his eyes. When he 
opened them he saw with amazement a large, sealed envelope in 
the middle of his desk. It was addressed to him. He wondered 
how it could have been placed there in his own study, to which 
no one but himself had access. He broke the seal and began to 
read. What he read was new to him and appealing. For the first 
time in his life, someone had dared to write to him openly, 
freely, making suggestions, giving advice, expressing hopes that 
the new emperor would fulfill his subjects' expectations. But 
the letter was not signed. The author did not have enough con- 
fidence in the young emperor to disclose his identity. This 
saddened Alexander, but he determined to find the one who 
had been bold enough to write him in this vein. 

When later Count Pahlen and Troshchinsky, then Minister 
of State, entered the emperor's study, Alexander rose and said: 
"Gentlemen, an unknown man placed this letter on my desk; 
it is unsigned I want you to find him and bring him to me." 
Having dismissed them, Alexander read the letter over once 
more. The author appealed to the emperor's noble heart. He 
evoked the dreams Alexander had cherished for so long. He 
gave a brilliant description of the situation in which the new 
emperor would find his empire, and continued: 


Passing in the night by your palace, I imagined this pic- 
ture of your blessed political situation and wondered what 
ways you will choose. Is it possible, I said to myself, that he 
will destroy deliberately this perfect harmony of heaven 
and earth in his favor and will leave the work of one-half of 
a century unfinished? Is it possible that he will calmly sacrifice 
for the simple pleasure of autocracy the hope of nations, the 
immortal glory and that reward which after a long, serene 
and happy life awaits benevolent rulers in the country of 
felicity? No! He will finally open that book of our fate and 
that of our descendants which Catherine but indicated. He 
will give us nontransgressable laws. He will establish them 
now and forever by an oath of all his subjects. He will tell 
Russia: "Here are the limits of my own autocracy and of 
that of my heirs, immovable and forever." 

Then at last Russia will enter into the family of constitu- 
tional monarchies and the iron scepter of personal despotism 
will never be able to destroy the tablets of her scriptures. 
. . . Nations will always be what the governments want 
them to be: Ivan the Terrible wanted to have speechless 
slaves, obedient to him, cruel to themselves. And he had 
them. Peter wanted to see us modeled after foreign patterns; 
unfortunately we became foreigners in our own country. 
Wise Catherine began to form real Russians; Alexander will 
complete this great task. 

It is easy to understand why Alexander was so moved by this 
message. The dreams of his youth, the teachings of La Harpe 
and Muravyov found their echo in this anonymous epistle. 
All that was best in the emperor's heart was revived, brought 


forth by this sincere address of an unknown subject. The appeal 
to Alexander in the name of Catherine the Great, the admira- 
tion that the author expressed at viewing the work of his grand- 
mother, touched the emperor the more because in his first 
manifesto, announcing his accession to the throne of his an- 
cestors, the young monarch had already promised "to rule over 
his people on the throne conferred on him by God, in accord 
with the laws and heart of the Great Catherine." And the very 
name of that empress, after the terror of Paul's reign, was a 
symbol of liberal and humanistic ideas. 

The next morning Troshchinsky reported to the emperor 
that he had found the culprit, and brought him to face his 
sovereign. It was an employee of one of Troshchinsky's chan- 
ceries, a young man by the name of Basil Nazarovich Karazin. 
Having thanked Troshchinsky for his zeal, Alexander dis- 
missed him and invited Karazin to his study. When he was left 
alone with him he asked: "Did you write this letter to me?" 

"I am sorry, Your Majesty," Karazin replied. 

Then the emperor came close to him and said: "Let me em- 
brace you for it. I thank you and wish I had more subjects like 
you. Please continue to tell me the truth." Alexander pressed 
him to his heart and Karazin, moved to tears, fell to the em- 
peror's feet and swore that he would always tell him the truth. 
Alexander invited Karazin to sit down, and conversed with him 
at great length. He told Karazin to communicate directly with 
him by personal letters thereafter and to use his study at any 
time the young man desired to do so. When the interview came 
to an end there stepped out of the emperor's study a new 
Marquis Posa who for a time was to help a new bewildered Don 


Karazin came from a distinguished noble family of Little Rus- 
sia. Like all young men of his class, he had entered the army 
and had become, in due course of time, an officer in the 
Semyonovsky Regiment of the Imperial Guards. But he did 
not remain in the army for long. Moved by a desire for knowl- 
edge, he had abandoned his military career at the age of twenty- 
five in order to study Russian conditions and the natural 
sciences. This was at the rime when Paul's despotism had 
reached its heights. Russia was actually tortured by her ruler. 
When Karazin had seen enough of his country's martyrdom, 
he decided, in disgust, to leave it and to seek a better life in 
foreign lands. But Paul had forbidden his subjects to cross the 
frontier, so Karazin was refused a passport. He then decided 
to follow a daring plan and to cross the frontier illegally. While 
crossing the Niemen River, he was seized by dragoons and 
taken to Kovno. It seemed that there was no hope left for 
Karazin, as such infringements of Paul's orders were severely 
punished. But as a drowning man grasps even at a straw, Karazin 
turned to the one chance he still had left, notwithstanding its 
apparent hopelessness and obvious danger. Preceding the official 
report, he wrote directly to Emperor Paul on August 26, 1798. 
In this letter he confessed his crime of disobedience to the 
emperor's orders. Then he explained his reasons for doing it: 

I wanted to hide from your rule, fearful of its brutal- 
ity. . . . Many examples of your arbitrary rule are reported 
throughout your empire, and, although they are perhaps 
exaggerated tenfold, they trouble my thoughts and imagi- 
nation day and night. I was not aware of committing any 
fault. In the seclusion of country life I had no occasion nor 


any reason to insult you. But my liberal ideas were already a 
crime. . . . Now it is in your power either to punish me 
and thus give a manifest realization to my fears or to forgive 
me and make me shed tears of repentance because I had such 
false ideas about my great and merciful ruler. 

Strangely enough this frank appeal had a salutary effect. 
Not often did Paul hear the truth from his subjects. Fear of his 
despotism, which had decided a young man to flee his empire, 
puzzled the emperor. He received the "criminal" and said: "I 
shall prove to you, young man, that you are mistaken, that 
service in Russia cannot be bad even under my rule. In which 
department do you wish to serve? " Although service in Russia 
was not exactly Karazin's aim when he attempted to leave the 
country, he had no choice at the time. So Karazin named the 
department directed by Troshchinsky, the most enlightened of 
Paul's ministers. The emperor commanded him to be appointed 
and to be left in peace. 

Such a man, of course, was a treasure for Alexander. Kara- 
zin's untiring activity and his profound scientific education were 
far above ordinary. He was an astronomer and chemist, a 
scholar of agronomy and of statistics, an economist and a tal- 
ented student of finance. But above all he was alive, bringing to 
every problem discussed an original point of view. Alexander 
showed his appreciation. He called for Karazin and discussed 
state reforms; with him he sought measures for the ameliora- 
tion of the Russian people's sufferings. Karazin elaborated in 
great detail measures to free the serfs. He drew up a project for 
the creation of a ministry of education. From the nobles and 
wealthy merchants of Little Russia he obtained vast sums of 


money for a gigantic project of a university in Kharkov, the 
principal city in that part of the Russian Empire, although 
to accomplish this he often had to humiliate himself by begging, 
almost on his knees. Alexander was more than satisfied with 
Karazin's work, but already some unknown force had begun to 
build barriers in the path of Karazin's success. 

The ministry of education was founded, but it was far from 
Karazin's original project. The university in Kharkov became a 
reality, but instead of a central institution of learning to serve 
not only for all of Little Russia but for the southwestern Slav 
nadons as well, it materialized into nothing more than a pro- 
vincial German Hochschule. Karazin had sought the greatest 
minds of the scientific world for this university. Laplas and 
Fichte had consented to come, but the government found them 
too expensive. It seemed that all Karazin's wonderful projects 
were to share the fate of these two. His brilliant career was 
envied by many. Some of them were close enough to the throne 
to have the ear of the emperor. They tried to prejudice the 
young sovereign against his faithful collaborator by painting 
the latter as a vain and ambitious man who was gradually usurp- 
ing Alexander's autocratic power. 

Alexander was accustomed to organizing literary soirees 
in the Winter Palace to which were invited only a selected 
few. At one of these gatherings they listened to the reading of 
Don Carlos, a new tragedy by Schiller. After the reader had 
completed his task, silence pervaded the room. The emperor 
seemed to be engrossed in his thoughts. His eyes looked vaguely 
at the painted ceiling. Did he think about his own life which 
seemed to resemble so closely that of Don Carlos? Or did he 
recall his own Philip? Suddenly in the complete silence a loud 


whisper was heard. Prince Alexander Nikolayevich Golitsyn 
said to Count Kochubey in a whisper, but intentionally loud 
enough so that everybody, and especially the emperor, should 
hear it: "We have our own Marquis Posa." Kochubey grinned 
and turned his eyes upon Karazin who sat at a little distance. 
Everybody in the room did likewise. 

Alexander stared at the gathering, then looked at Karazin. A 
sudden suspicion seized his mind. He frowned, obviously dis- 
pleased, and after bowing to the persons present, left the room. 
Prince Golitsyn smiled. The future Minister of Education and 
of Spiritual Affairs, a mason and an inquisitor, Director of the 
Biblical Society and of the State Post, an intimate friend of 
Alexander to such an extent that in the space of ten years he 
had dined with him over three thousand times was pleased. 
Knowing Alexander's suspicious character, he was sure that his 
word would bear fruit, and he was not mistaken. He did not 
himself know why he was preparing the downfall of the tal- 
ented young Karazin, but as a thorough courtier he deemed it 
wise and expedient to put aside one who had such a hold on 
the monarch. 

The break soon came. In 1804, Karazin had just returned 
from a tour of inspection upon which he had been sent by the 
emperor to investigate the activity of Governor Lopukhin. 
He had uncovered terrible abuses, and the governor was 
brought to justice. Karazin went with his report to Alexander. 
The emperor received him frowning. "You show my letters 
to others," he said. "Sire" began the unfortunate man, but 
Alexander did not allow him to speak. "Others," he said, 
"know what I have written only to you and have never spoken 
to anyone else. You may go." 


It was the dismissal, the final break. Alexander did not know 
that even an emperor's messages were not immune from the 
eyes of postal officials, a fact he was to learn only some years 
later. And so ended one of the most fruitful collaborations that 
has ever existed between a sovereign and one of his subjects. 
And for Alexander, particularly, the break was perhaps a dis- 
astrous one. 

As a whole, the first four years of Alexander's reign com- 
pletely transformed life in Russia. It is almost impossible to 
enumerate all the decrees that were enacted by the young em- 
peror, but a few of them will suffice to show the trend of that 
new era which dawned in 1801. The freedom of the cities and 
the personal liberty of the nobility were restored. Ten thou- 
sand civilian and military servants whom Paul had discharged 
and deprived of civil rights were returned to their posts. The 
frontiers were thrown open and Russians could go abroad again 
and foreigners could enter Russia. The secret police, the famous 
Secret Expedition, founded by Empress Anna loanovna, was 
abolished. Torture was strictly forbidden. Although Paul had 
already abrogated this survival of the Middle Ages, the order 
had never been enforced and torture had been practiced in Rus- 
sian courts throughout his reign. Private printing offices were 
again permitted to exist and foreign books were allowed to be 
brought into the country. The arbitrary system of censorship 
which had prevailed during the reign of Paul and even during 
that of Catherine was completely reformed. Based upon a set of 
liberal rules, its supervision and enforcement were not entrusted 
to narrow-minded bureaucrats, but to a committee of university 
professors. This reform, and Alexander's personal interest in 


literature, were responsible to a great extent for the appearance 
of much literary talent in Russia* 

It is seldom [wrote the Russian historian Bogdanovich] 
that a sovereign gives such encouragement to literature as 
did Emperor Alexander. Worthy literary productions by 
people in active service of the State were rewarded by ad- 
vancement, decorations and pensions; writers who were not 
in the government service often received valuable presents 
and gifts of money. As the circulation of books, particularly 
of a scientific nature, was still so small that it could not offer 
sufficient royalties to compensate adequately many authors, 
the emperor often gave these authors important sums of 
money in order to encourage them to further literary activ- 
Many writers began to send their manuscripts directly to 

the emperor and if they had any value at all, Alexander 
usually ordered their printing at his own expense and then 
presented the whole edition to the author. When Karamzin, 
the well-known Russian historian, expressed a desire to 
undertake the writing of a history of the Russian State, the 
emperor conferred upon him the title of Official Historiog- 
rapher of the Empire, gave him a pension of two thousand 
rubles, and ordered the publication of the voluminous work 
at the expense of the State. 

Whilst he plunged himself into the tremendous activity 
which gave birth to so many reforms, Alexander attracted new 
men who were eager to give him their utmost co-operation. 


These were his personal friends, companions of his youth, who 
had been scattered over the almost endless expanse of the empire 
during Paul's reign and who now returned to St. Petersburg 
to join the intimate circle surrounding the young monarch. 
They were Nicholas Novossiltsov, Count Victor Kochubey, 
Count Paul Stroganov, and Prince Adam Czartoryski. These 
men came from noble families with a tradition of service to the 
crown. They had also received an education similar to that of 
the emperor himself. Count Stroganov's tutor had been a 
Frenchman by the name of Rosque, a republican, member of 
the Convention and author of the French republican calendar. 
Rosque's influence on Stroganov was as great as that of La 
Harpe on Alexander. Kochubey and Novossiltsov had lived in 
England where they became converted to English constitutional 
ideas. As for Czartoryski, his Polish ancestry and French edu- 
cation made him a typical liberal of the time. 

At first these men did not occupy official positions, but later 
Kochubey was Minister of the Interior; Czartoryski, Minister 
of Foreign Affairs; Stroganov, Minister of Public Instruction; 
and Novossiltsov, Secretary of State. They would gather to- 
gether in Alexander's study to discuss with him the important 
problems the new regime was facing. Society people of the 
capital and experienced old courtiers laughed at them and con- 
sidered their gatherings more an emperor's fancy than a serious 
attempt to reform Russia. Alexander himself gave this unofficial 
committee a republican name, calling it the Committee of Pub- 
lic Welfare. However, it was precisely in this committee that 
most of Alexander's early reforms were elaborated, discussed 
and prepared for execution. Among these were the creation 
of ministries under responsible heads and the first timid step 


toward the emancipation of the serfs in the law of 1803, which 
established a new peasant class of "free farmers." 

All these measures seemed designed to wipe from the memory 
of Russians the evil recollections of the former reign. 

At first Alexander did not know what steps to take against 
Count Pahlen, the Zubov brothers, and the other leaders of the 
conspiracy. Perhaps he still feared them. But when he found 
support in La Harpe, his former tutor and friend, who had re- 
turned to Russia on the express invitation of the young monarch, 
he felt he was not alone. Moreover, he began to realize that 
public opinion would condemn him if he suffered the presence 
of his father's murderers any longer. On October 30, 1801, 
La Harpe had written a long letter to Alexander expressing 
himself on the subject. He reassured his former pupil on the 
question of the latter's participation in the conspiracy, but ex- 
horted him to take stem measures against the assassins, for in 
committing their crime they had overreached themselves, as 
their new legitimate ruler had never agreed to bloodshed but 
had given his approval only to a forced abdication. He then con- 

As Your Majesty asks my opinion I shall tell you that you 
have only two ways before you. To follow the first is to 
admit that the murder was accidental, which is a hard thing 
to believe. But even in this case all persons connected with it 
should be compelled to leave the capital, a thing they them- 
selves should have done long ago. The second way is to let 
the law follow its course. 

There was at that time an important group of Russian people 
who considered Emperor Paul as their benefactor. These were 


the raskolniki, the "old believers," a religious sect which had 
been persecuted since the time of Peter the Great and had had 
no legal standing in the Russian Empire. Paul had granted 
them the freedom of their belief, authorized them to have their 
own houses of worship and to enjoy the practice of their 
particular rules of life. After the news of Paul's murder had 
reached them, they felt that a great wrong had been done them 
and, to express their protest, they sent to Paul's widow, Em- 
press Maria Fyodorovna, holy images with texts from the 
Scriptures, which were of a character to alarm Count Pahlen. 
Pahlen approached Alexander in a highly nervous state and said 
that the dowager empress was setting the people against him 
and the other members of the conspiracy (meaning Alexander 
also) by the display of these holy images. Emperor Alexander 
demanded to see them and found that the incriminating text 
was taken from Chapter IX of the Second Book of Kings, and 
read: "Had Zimri peace, who slew his master?" When Empress 
Maria Fyodorovna heard about this step of Pahlen's, she ex- 
pressed to Alexander her utter displeasure at the way he had 
dared to blacken her in the eyes of her son. 

This was the opportunity Alexander had waited for. The 
next morning when the count arrived on the parade ground 
in his coach drawn by six horses and was ready to alight, an aide- 
de-camp of the emperor invited him by order of Alexander to 
retire to his estate in Kurland. Without a word Pahlen obeyed. 
The same evening Count Nicholas Zubov suffered a similar fate. 

The new emperor adopted a remarkably simple mode of life. 
He appeared in the streets of his capital alone, without the usual 
protection of police or of a bodyguard. He dressed without 
extravagance, usually wearing the simple green uniform of the 


Scmyonovsky Regiment, without decorations, even without 
a watch. He was quite satisfied when passers-by simply lifted 
their hats to greet him. Nor did it matter when people ignored 
him completely during these lonely promenades. This impressed 
his subjects, particularly when they compared his ways to those 
of the late Emperor Paul. Paul had ordered that everyone who 
should meet him in the streets, with no exception even for ladies, 
should greet him with a deep bow; and if the people were 
riding in a coach, they were to step out in the road to perform 
the curtsy. It happened one day, when it was raining and the 
unpaved streets of the capital were transformed into rivers 
of mud, that a young lady riding in her coach met the emperor. 
Knowing Paul's rigorous enforcement of his rules, the young 
lady stepped out quickly into the mud. Paul was so embarrassed 
at the sight of a pretty girl knee deep in the muddy river of 
a St. Petersburg street, that he shouted to her: "Sit down, sit 
down!" meaning, of course, that the young lady should re- 
enter her carriage. But the spell of terror was so great in Paul's 
capital that the lady obeyed literally and sat herself down in 
the mud. 

One can understand, therefore, the feeling of relief that 
pervaded the minds of the Russian people after the accession of 
Alexander. The young, handsome, and amiable monarch won 
every heart. Russia was ready to serve him, to give him all her 
support in everything he might attempt to do for her progress. 
Karazin's first appeal to Alexander seemed to have borne fruit. 
The emperor expressed openly his desire to end once and for 
all the era of arbitrary rule and to base the life of the nation on 
firm and immutable laws. When a titled lady of the court ad- 
dressed a request to him in which she asked for an exceptional 


favor and said that the emperor could grant it if he pleased 
since he stood above the law, Alexander replied that he did not 
recognize any power on earth which did not originate in the 
existing laws. 

Despite the far-reaching reforms conceived by Alexander 
and his collaborators, the enactment of these measures met with 
stubborn resistance on the part of the conservative class of no- 
bility. This opposition forced Alexander more than once to 
compromise and to sacrifice his ideals for the sake of expediency. 
Gradually overpowered by the opposition, the dreams of Alex- 
ander and his Committee of Public Welfare for completely 
reforming Russia faded. Their enthusiasm and zeal were no 
match for the practical experienced men who opposed them 
so persistently. Alexander's friends had hoped that he would 
follow resolutely the path which they had traced in the meet- 
ings of the committee. They now began to realize that Russia 
under Alexander had no chance of becoming a second England 
with its traditional liberty under a strictly constitutional and 
parliamentary government. Dreamers themselves, they could 
not visualize the necessity of facing reality. So one by one they 
left the emperor. Novossiltsov went to live in his beloved Al- 
bion; Count Stroganov exchanged the pen of a reformer for 
the sword of a soldier; Count Kochubey retired to his estates to 
lead the life of a country gentleman; Prince Czartoryski applied 
his activity to his native Poland as Curator of the Educational 
District of Vilno. Alexander remained alone. He would have 
liked to follow the example of his friends and to retire to a 
quiet life, as he had dreamed when a youth. But one cannot 
abandon the inherited responsibility of a throne as easily as one 


can relinquish a public office. In 1803, he wrote in one of his 
letters to La Harpe: 

When Providence shall bless me with bringing Russia to 
the degree of prosperity that I desire, I shall deem it my first 
duty to cast aside the burden of rule and to retire to some 
remote corner of Europe wheref rom I shall be able to watch 
and to enjoy the felicity of my country. 

Equipped as he was with an armor of ideals, enveloped in 
a cape of dreams, Alexander was easily vanquished by the solid 
weapons of stern reality, weapons that had been forged for 
centuries. Heir to a mighty empire, he brought with him no 
experience to fulfill the difficult task of ruling, nor any strong 
desire to persevere in the task. He faced his responsibilities 
with the lightheartedness and enthusiasm of a schoolboy at 
his first class, but found only too soon that the problems re- 
quiring solution were not so simple as he had imagined; that, 
perhaps, they were even beyond his capacity. Realizing that 
he would eventually have to concede victory to the reactionary 
forces strongly entrenched in his realm, Alexander gradually 
abandoned his reforming activities and retired more and more 
within himself. 

In the time to come, however, he was to recall more than 
once the first happy years of his reign. Notwithstanding their 
feverish activity, they were peaceful years as compared with 
those that fate had in store for him, the shadows of which were 
already visible on the horizon. The thunder of marching French 
grenadiers was even then echoing over the expanse of Europe. 


The ambition of a single man was set against the historical 
heritage of a whole continent. Little did this man know that a 
handsome young sovereign of a distant land was to be his nem- 
esis. Alexander the Dreamer had been vanquished by the forces 
of reality because he could not cope with them. A new Alex- 
ander, fortified by a knowledge of men, was ready to resume 
the struggle. And fate gave him a new and powerful opponent, 
worthy to be an emperor's antagonist. It was Napoleon. 



THERE is no doubt that Napoleon had a better chance of de- 
velopment than Alexander, hampered as the latter was by in- 
herited responsibilities, driven from one extreme to another, 
first by his educators and later by the circumstances which 
beset him. He said himself: "I am accused of being suspicious, 
but, is it not known that from the time I began to reason I 
have seen nothing but misfortune around me? Everything I 
have undertaken has turned into disaster against me.'* 

From the time of his childhood Napoleon played the leader 
with his playmates at A jaccio. In his youth, in Brienne, he seized 
every opportunity to perfect himself, to prepare himself for 
his future role of leader of men. He developed great will power. 
He did not know what fate had in reserve for him, but it seems 
that he always governed his actions in order to be ready when 
his hour would come. He chose his own subjects to study, and 
early in his youth he abandoned as unnecessary all humanis- 
tic branches of learning in order to devote all his attention and 
capacity to the service of mathematics and of the exact sciences. 
He trained his mind by efforts of will for this purpose, and all 



through his extraordinary life he was able to use his fantastic 
memory to remember dates, dispositions of battles, columns of 
statistics unable at the same time to memorize even a few lines 
of poetry. He prepared even his imagination to work for him 
as a faithful and reliable servant. Nature, and not art, was the 
stimulus for his imagination, and he was able to recall the exact 
topographic characteristics of a landscape years after having 
seen it, although at the time he might not have attached much 
importance to it. His brain registered everything that could 
be useful to him at some later date, as if it were the film of a 
photographic camera. 

He learned how to dominate his moods, how to conceal his 
temper, because he knew that such a mastery would become 
useful to him. He became proficient in the science of ruling 
men. He brought his own physical nature under control he 
needed only three hours of sleep and almost nothing to eat thus 
gaining more time for work. All this was possible for him to 
achieve because no one disturbed him, no one intervened in his 
everyday life with advice, recommendations or demands. He 
was unknown then, still in the shadow of history, left alone and 
in peace to become the young man who attained prominence 
with his first appearance in Toulon. 

Alexander's childhood and youth were crowded with too 
many advisers. They unwittingly dissolved amid disorder all 
that was orderly and solid in his character. Napoleon gathered 
his forces into one whole; he prepared himself, like a block 
of steel, by gradual tempering. Alexander moved between 
pleasure and disappointment. Napoleon worked hard and 
thought much; Alexander gathered knowledge like a butter- 


fly, choosing that which was beautiful and elevated. Napoleon 
accepted for himself only that which was practical and useful; 
Alexander came out of school years an idealist. Thus, when 
they started their careers, Alexander was soon lost in contra- 
dictions, lofty though they were, while Napoleon showed 
himself in Italy to be such a master that he received immediate 
recognition and respect from older and more experienced men, 
like Massena and Augereau. 

Both Alexander and Napoleon had to fight for their thrones. 
Both obtained their thrones through violence. But the con- 
spiracy of 1 80 1 was purely of a palace nature, while the over- 
throw of the Convention, in 1799, was a real coup d'etat. 
Though Alexander did nothing but take a little earlier that 
which belonged to him by right of birth, Napoleon really 
usurped the power of the people. Nevertheless, Alexander's 
act carried with it a more personal and deeper moral effect than 
Napoleon's. Both received punishment and made expiation: 
Napoleon at Saint Helena and Alexander in Siberia. 

It may be recalled that Victor Hugo, one of the greatest 
admirers of Napoleon that ever lived, could not forgive his 
hero the violence of the 1 8th Brumaire. And Napoleon realized 
himself how unstable his power was so long as it rested upon 
usurpation. The i8th Brumaire was a success, but it had an un- 
fortunate result in that from then on the people demanded 
success from Napoleon. Once the crown was given for saving 
the country from anarchy and foreign invasion, it was obvious 
that the people would refuse their support to the emperor of 
the French in case of any failure however small. Everyone knew 
it, everyone including Napoleon himself. He said to Metteniich: 


Your sovereigns, born on the throne, have the privilege of 
letting themselves be beaten twenty times and are still able 
to return to their capitals as rulers. I cannot afford it, because 
I am a soldier of fortune. My power will end on the day when 
I shall cease to be strong and awe-inspiring. 

That is why Napoleon strove continually to achieve spec- 
tacular effects in order to hold the imagination of his people in 
a state of continuous wonder. It is the reason also that led him 
to attempt to intimidate his opponents. He succeeded so long 
as he had to deal with men upon whose imagination and feel- 
ings he had influence, but the day he encountered a man who 
was not afraid of him, who opposed the crudeness of a con- 
queror with the skill and finesse of a born diplomat, and who 
was in his own faith as fanatical as Napoleon in his, the spell 
was broken. 

Metternich has said: "Alexander's character represents a 
strange blending of the qualities of a man and the weaknesses 
of a woman." And La Ferronays, at one time French ambas- 
sador in St. Petersburg, added: "If Alexander were to be dressed 
in woman's clothes he would have made a shrewd woman." 
Napoleon went further when he said that all the affinities of 
Alexander's character "lacked something" to make them "the 
qualities of a man." That is why, perhaps, they resembled much 
more "the weaknesses of a woman." There is no doubt that pre- 
cisely these attributes of "a shrewd woman" were responsible 
for molding Alexander into a great diplomat. In the struggles 
of the conference room, where shrewdness, hypocrisy, and 
the ability to hide the truth were the accepted weapons, Alex- 
ander was really a great figure. The well-known Russian his- 


torian, Alexander Kiesewetter, has said: "Alexander was a born 
diplomat, as much as Napoleon was a born general." 

Although apparently very different in character, Alexander 
and Napoleon shared a mutual distrust of men. Alexander once 
said to General de Sanglain: "I do not trust anyone; men are 
scoundrels." Chapsal reported in his memoirs that "Napoleon 
did not believe in either virtue or honesty. He often termed 
these two words 'abstractions/ " And General Mathew Dumas 
wrote that Napoleon had once said to him: "You cannot be 
different from other men; all of them think first of their personal 
interests." As a result of this attitude on the part of the two 
rivals, each surrounded himself with bureaucratic mediocrities, 
and their struggle held, therefore, more the aspects of a personal 
duel than of a fight between two nations, between two em- 

In the first years of Alexander's reign, Russia's relations with 
France, though never cordial, were at least outwardly friendly. 
Alexander was feeling his way carefully in the complicated 
game of diplomacy. Napoleon was eager to win the young 
sovereign to his side, as France was still engaged in a war with 
England. The First Consul of the French Republic sent the 
trusted Caulaincourt as his first ambassador to Alexander's 
court with instructions to revive the talks of an alliance which 
were held in the last months of Paul's reign. But Alexander 
refused to commit himself, turning a deaf ear to accusations 
that his collaborators, and particularly Novossiltsov, were 
making him a tool of England. 

When in 1802, the war between France and England was 
ended by the Peace of Amiens, the urgency of obtaining Rus- 
sia's help vanished and Napoleon's diplomacy turned to other 


quarters. It was then that Alexander, following a romantic 
meeting at Memel with beautiful Queen Louisa of Prussia, 
decided to espouse Prussia's cause and help her wrest from 
Napoleon the last territories on the Rhine. 

The opportunity for a break with Napoleon presented it- 
self in 1 804. The unwarranted execution of the Duke d'Enghien 
revolted Alexander. He sent two vehement notes: one to the 
German diet in Regensburg in which he invited all the German 
states to protest against the violation of German territory, be- 
cause the unfortunate last Condi had been captured by the 
French on the territory of the Duchy of Baden; and the other 
to France in which Alexander expressed his indignation at the 
unlawful act perpetrated by agents of the French Republic. 
This note, delivered to Talleyrand, then Napoleon's Minister 
of Foreign Affairs, by the Russian charge d'affaires on May 1 2, 
received an unexpected reply. On May 16, Talleyrand handed 
the Russian representative a counter note dictated by Bona- 
parte in which the first consul unequivocally reminded the 
Russian emperor of the latter's participation in the murder of 
Paul, and expressed his surprise that a person whose hands were 
stained with the blood of his own father should presume to 
protest against an execution which had been necessary for the 
political tranquillity of France. The note also accused Alex- 
ander of having made his protest under the influence of the 
British government. 

This, naturally, led to an open break between France and 
Russia. On May 17, Bonaparte recalled his ambassador at the 
Court of St. Petersburg, and on May 18, the Corsican was pro- 
claimed emperor. Bonaparte disappeared and Napoleon made 
his entry on the stage of Europe. 



Alexander then proceeded to form a coalition against France. 
The timid king of Prussia refused to enter the field at the time 
as Prussia was not prepared for a campaign. Alexander turned 
to Austria. On November 6, 1804, Austria signed an alliance 
with Russia. On January 14, 1805, Russia signed a treaty of 
alliance with Sweden, and on April 1 1, one with England. On 
August 9, Austria joined the Anglo-Russian alliance by means 
of a special declaration. War was now inevitable. On Septem- 
ber 21,1 805, Alexander left his capital in order to join the army 
stationed on the Austrian frontier. 

It was a gray, foggy day. Clouds hung low over St. Peters- 
burg, dark and menacing. A strange feeling of fear, almost of 
awe, gripped Alexander's heart. Two days before, he had 
visited a venerable hermit by the name of Sevastianov, who had 
implored the emperor not to start a war against the "accursed 
Frenchman," because it was too soon and would do no good. 
"Your time has not come yet," the old man had said. "He will 
beat you and destroy your army; you will have to flee in shame. 
Wait, get stronger, your hour will still come, then God will 
help you to destroy the power of the enemy of mankind." Alex- 
ander felt that perhaps the hermit was right, that he should not 
attempt to do what seemed to be beyond his power. But the 
die was cast Napoleon had already opened his brilliant cam- 
paign against Austria. He had defeated the Austrian army under 
General Mack at Ulm; he had occupied Vienna, crossed the 
Danube and advanced as far as Briinn. 

On November 18, Alexander reached Olmiitz where Em- 
peror Francis of Austria with the remnants of his army awaited 
his ally and protector. The military situation seemed to be pre- 
carious. Kutuzov, the Russian general who was appointed com- 


mander in chief of the allied armies, advised caution and urged 
the opening of negotiations for peace with Napoleon. How- 
ever, the younger generals, led by Prince Peter Dolgoruky, 
assured the emperor of the imminence of victory. This young 
nobleman, more than anyone else perhaps, should be held re- 
sponsible for the disaster of Austerlitz. 

A descendant of one of Russia's most illustrious families, 
Prince Peter was born on December 19, 1 777. As was customary 
at that time, he was inscribed on the lists of the Izmailovsky 
Regiment of the Guards almost from the day of his birth and, 
while not actually serving, received promotions so that at the age 
of fifteen he was already a captain. The next year he started his 
military service with the rank of major, having been appointed 
aide-de-camp to his uncle, then governor general of Moscow. 
Three years later he was a colonel in the Arkharov Regiment. 
He was then not quite twenty years of age. 

In spite of this brilliant career, Prince Peter was not satisfied 
with his garrison duties. He addressed a petition to Emperor 
Paul to be given a more active appointment. This petition was 
refused. Undaunted he sent another one, this time receiving an 
admonition "not to bother His Majesty any further." 

He then took a dangerous step by appealing to the heir to the 
throne. Alexander became interested in the case of Prince 
Peter, as it was unusual for a young officer to seek something to 
do at a time when the almost universal desire in the empire was 
to do nothing. He was able to intercede for Dolgoruky whom 
Paul appointed commandant of the fortress of Smolensk. In 
less than three months the young colonel brought order into the 
affairs of his command which had been thoroughly neglected 


by his predecessor and, on December 23, 1798, he was rewarded 
by an appointment as General Aide-de-Camp to His Imperial 

Alexander took him under his wing and, after ascending the 
throne, entrusted him with a number of special missions which 
Dolgoruky carried out successfully, thus gaining greater favor 
with the young emperor. 

On the eve of Austerlitz it was really Dolgoruky, the Austrian 
general Weiroter, and Alexander who gave orders to the allied 
armies instead of Kutuzov, the commander in chief. 

In Olmiitz, Alexander received the visit of General Savary 
whom Napoleon had sent to open negotiations for peace. This, 
and the fact that a few days prior to the French general's visit 
the allied armies had had a successful encounter with Napoleon's 
troops at Wischau, completely turned the heads of Alexander's 
advisers who now felt sure that Napoleon was afraid to give 
general battle and that, consequently, victory for the allies was 
assured. Savary returned to his master with a report stating that 
Prince Peter and the young generals surrounding Alexander 
were determined to fight and would inevitably commit blun- 
ders, while the experienced and wise generals against whom 
there would be less chance for victory were kept inactive. In 
order to gain time for the concentration of his troops, Napo- 
leon sent Savary to the allied camp again, requesting a personal 
meeting with Alexander. In answer to this, the emperor sent 
Dolgoruky to Moravia to meet the emperor of the French. 

Napoleon, surrounded by a small group of generals, was 
riding down the road in order to inspect the advance posts 
when he saw a Russian general advancing toward him on horse- 


back. He drew up his mount and began to converse with Alex- 
ander's messenger. After inquiring about the health of the 
Russian emperor, he continued: 

"How long have we to fight? What do you want from 
me? What does Emperor Alexander desire? If he wants to 
enlarge his states let him do it at the expense of his neighbors, 
Turkey especially, and then he will have no disputes with 

Prince Dolgoruky openly showed his contempt in talking 
to Napoleon. His answers were haughty and insolent. He said 
that no one had the right to dictate to the Russian emperor con- 
cerning his conduct; that Alexander had no animosity toward 
France, but that he was determined to free Europe from French 
subjugation. "Russia should follow a different line of policy and 
think of her own interests first," Napoleon interrupted the 
young messenger of Alexander. Then, visibly annoyed, he said, 
"Well, if you wish it, we shall fight." Prince Dolgoruky re- 
mounted his horse and galloped back to the Russian lines with- 
out even taking leave of Napoleon. During the entire conversa- 
tion he did not address Napoleon with the customary "Your 
Majesty." He spoke to the emperor of the French as if he were 
a vulgar parvenu. One can understand in what a fury this left 
Napoleon. In his 30th Bulletin he mentioned this meeting and 
said that he would not have accepted Russia's conditions even 
if Russian troops were occupying the heights of Montmartre. 
He called Alexander's envoy: "un freluquet impertinent, ce 
polisson de Dolgoruky" * and complained that Prince Peter 

1 "An insolent nincompoop, this mischievous Dolgoruky." 


had spoken to him as if he were a Russian subject about to be 
exiled to Siberia. This was one of the blunders of which Savary 
had spoken and one which had a catastrophic effect, because 
Prince Peter Dolgoniky had had a chance to avoid the defeat 
at Austerlitz, which opportunity he did not seize. 

The morning of December 2, 1805, was cold. The allied 
armies started to execute the detailed disposition of General 
Weiroter in a dense morning mist. Many of the detachments 
lost their way and encountered the enemy where, according to 
the Austrian strategist, the enemy should not have been. By 
noon the battle was lost, but the fighting continued. 

Alexander had remained with the Fourth Army Group. 
During the battle he was lost from sight by most of the persons 
attached to him. Only his court surgeon, Sir James Wylie, Bt., 
and four aides remained with him throughout the long hours of 
the battle. Toward evening, Major Tohl, following the fleeing 
detachments of the defeated armies, suddenly discovered the 
emperor with his little escort in the middle of a field. Alexander 
was ill. The defeat was so unexpected that it had shaken his 
entire being. He stopped his horse, dismounted, threw himself 
on the ground under a tree and, covering his face, began to 
cry like a child. Soon a violent attack of indigestion caused him 
to be seized with convulsions. That night he stopped in the 
small hamlet of Urjitz, where the Austrian emperor had already 
taken up quarters. Wylie found a peasant's hut for him, and it 
was there on the floor, hastily covered with some straw, that 
Alexander spent the night after the defeat of Austerlitz. Only 
toward morning, after a long and patient search through the 
hamlet, did Wylie find some red wine in order to prepare a 
soothing potion for Alexander. During this search Lamberti, 


the Austrian Marshal of the Court, had refused to supply wine 
for the Russian emperor, because, he said, he could not do so 
without the permission of Emperor Francis who was asleep 
and could not be disturbed. Not even to soothe the pain of his 
ally and recent protector, Alexander, Emperor and Autocrat 
of All the Russias, could Emperor Francis' slumbers be dis- 

Tormented by his conscience, shaken by a nervous fever, 
and doubled up by convulsions, Alexander suffered the agonies 
of shame attending his first defeat. He recalled the strange pre- 
diction of the hermit, Sevastianov, and an awe-inspiring fear 
clutched at his heart. It seemed that he had uttered the sheer 
truth when he said: "Everything I have undertaken has turned 
into disaster against me." This indeed was a disaster. His own 
and the Austrian armies defeated, thousands of men slain, him- 
self covered with shame. Was this a warning of destiny not to 
attempt the impossible? Was the hated Napoleon the chosen 
man? Should he submit to the dictation of fate? Or was this 
only a test of his strength of character? After all, Sevastianov 
warned him not to undertake the destruction of the Corsican 
at that time only; the venerable hermit assured him of a future 
victory. This was, then, only a lesson, and a warning not to 
underestimate the strength of the one who boasted of being the 
"unconquerable." Gradually Alexander felt his hopes revived. 
A determination to continue the struggle grew steadily. Aus- 
tria was defeated, but he would find new allies. He would force 
Prussia to keep her part of the bargain; he would induce Eng- 
land to render more effective help; he would call upon the re- 
sources of his own great Russia, and with God's help he could 
and would free Europe from the "accursed Frenchman." 



THE SECOND campaign which Alexander led against Napoleon, 
this time with the help of Prussia, ended for the two allies in the 
disasters of Jena and Friedland in 1807. Following these de- 
feats it became clear that Russia could not fight any more at this 
time, and that Prussia, which had been entirely overrun by 
Napoleon's troops, could not be counted on for any assistance. 
King Frederick William III of Prussia was indeed a king with- 
out a kingdom, having taken refuge in Memel, the only city 
of his realm as yet not occupied by Napoleon. 

The news of Friedland came as a heavy blow to Alexander. 
Under the circumstances there was nothing for him to do but 
to open negotiations for peace with the dreaded enemy, and 
this he proceeded to do. Russia's offer to negotiate was met with 
open satisfaction by Napoleon. Although, as he said at a later 
date, his armies were ready to march on Vilno and would have 
occupied the city within twelve days, nevertheless he was 
well aware that the occupation of Vilno would not have ended 
the war with Russia; it would have been just the beginning of 
a new campaign, as it was to be in 1812, and he was not pre- 


pared for it. On the other hand he welcomed peace with Russia 
because it fitted with his plans to find a strong ally in Europe 
in order to make his continental system, directed primarily 
against England, effective. The battle of Marengo had assured 
Napoleon's predominance in Italy; Austerlitz had brought 
Austria to his feet; Jena broke the resistance of Prussia; and 
Friedland assured him of an ally whose acquisition he had 
sought since 1801. "It is essential/' he wrote to Talleyrand, 
"that all this end with a system of close alliance either with 
Russia or Austria." Vienna was still undecided when Emperor 
Alexander made his offer, placing the welfare and interests of 
Russia above his personal ambition. 

It seemed, therefore, that from now on the two rivals, 
instead of grappling at each other's throats, would combine 
their forces for the division of their spoils Europe. The 
haughty words of Prince Dolgoruky, addressed to Napoleon 
on the eve of the battle of Austerlitz, stating Alexander's desire 
to free the world from a tyrant, seemed to belong to another 
century, so different was the situation now. 

On Napoleon's invitation, suggested by Alexander him- 
self, the two rulers of the mightiest empires of the time were 
to meet at Tilsit on the banks of the Niemen River in East 
Prussia in order to discuss personally the terms of peace and 
alliance. Destiny had turned a new page. Whether Alexander 
or Napoleon would fill this page depended upon the trial of 
their skill in the forthcoming meeting: the combat on the field 
of battle was about to be replaced by a duel, a duel with much 
more subtle weapons than pistols and swords a duel of diplo- 

The day of June 25, 1807 the day of the fateful meeting 


was heralded by a beautiful sunrise. The trees of the distant 
woods shone like the rarest of emeralds. The mighty waters of 
the Niemen River, in the middle of which floated a large raft 
bearing two pavilions, flowed like a broad mass of aquamarines, 
and the sand of the shores was of pure gold. It seemed that 
nature clothed itself in a festive garb for the historic meeting 
of the Gallic Mars and the northern Apollo. Tilsit, then Napo- 
leon's headquarters, lay on the left bank of the river. Early 
in the morning troops and civilians moved from the town to the 
high cliffs overlooking the Niemen in order to acclaim the 
Corsican, their demigod. All the Guard was there, lined up 
facing the river, and thousands of townsmen with their wives 
and children. On the Russian side there were no special prep- 
arations, no display of multitudes was made. Only a boat was 
held ready, the rowers of which were hurriedly found among 
the local fishermen; and half a squadron of Russian Horse 
Guards and a squadron of Prussian cavalry were to serve as an 
escort to Emperor Alexander and King Frederick William. 

Toward eleven o'clock in the morning, Alexander, accom- 
panied by the king of Prussia, the Grand Duke Constantine, 
and members of his household, left his headquarters in the 
village of Amt-Baublen and proceeded down the Tilsit road 
to the Niemen. When they reached the banks of the river 
at a point opposite the French headquarters, they entered an 
old abandoned inn. There Alexander sat down near a window 
and gazed at the picture spread before his eyes. Directly in 
front of him he saw the raft in the middle of the river, pre- 
pared by the French. The two pavilions were covered with 
white linen. The larger one, intended for the two emperors, 
was decorated with huge initials painted in green: N on the 


French side, A on the Russian. To the great disappointment 
and anger of the Prussians the initials of their king were not 

Alexander sat in silence awaiting the arrival of Napoleon on 
the other side of the river. He was entirely master of himself, 
as reported by more than one person present at the time, but his 
head was filled with alarming thoughts. He feared that he 
would find Napoleon a stern and exacting victor. Although he 
had communicated to the French emperor that he would not 
cede a foot of Russian soil, he realized that with this forth- 
coming meeting, the policy he had pursued since ascending 
the throne of Russia was coming to an end. He had wanted to 
bring about the liberation of Europe his youthful ideal 
but had failed. He was bitter against his allies: first Austria, 
then Prussia, had shown that they were of no assistance in a 
battle of titans. At the same time he recalled Sevastianov's 
prophecy, and an uneasy feeling crept into his heart. 

He argued with himself. There had really been no other way 
out of the situation. Were not his reasons for seeking peace 
with Napoleon, as he explained them to Prince Kurakin, per- 
fectly sound? Russia had lost an enormous number of officers 
and men; all her best generals were either wounded or ill; the 
army had only five or six lieutenant generals left, most of whom 
were still young and inexperienced, thus in reality leaving no 
one to command the troops if hostilities were to continue. Then, 
too, Russia was now alone, since her allies, Austria and Prussia, 
had been decisively overcome and England remained thor- 
oughly unreliable. She had promised to send a detachment of 
from ten to fifteen thousand men, which in itself was a meager 
help, yet she had never fulfilled her promise; and the financial 


assistance she offered was pitifully inadequate. The English 
government had announced that England could supply not 
more than 2,200,000 pounds sterling a year to be divided among 
the three continental allies, a sum entirely insufficient. Every- 
thing indicated that he had made the right decision. Besides, 
had he not said that there were circumstances when one has 
to look out for one's self, to be selfish, guided exclusively by 
the welfare of one's own country? All this was sound reasoning. 

But Alexander knew that there was something else that 
troubled him: a wound inflicted by the hand of the Corsican 
which would never heal. Blood rushed to his face and he turned 
more to the window in order to hide his emotion. After all, 
the brutal reminder by Napoleon of Alexander's tacit participa- 
tion in the murder of Emperor Paul could never be forgotten. 
Alexander might declare his friendship to the victor of the hour, 
he might accept him as an ally, but all this only so long as he 
himself remained weak and unable to strike the vengeful blow. 
Yes, revenge! With this sacred duty in mind and heart, he was 
sure to win the forthcoming duel, a duel fought with words. 
There is an old saying: "Words are given to men in order to 
conceal their thoughts." Alexander, a master in concealment, 
was confident of victory! 

An aide-de-camp hurriedly opened the door and announced: 
"He is arriving, Your Majesty." Alexander rose slowly, took 
his hat and gloves and left the room. His face was calm, almost 
serene, when he walked down to the waiting boat. On the other 
side of the Niemen, Napoleon galloped along the front of his 
Old Guard. A colorful group of his marshals and generals fol- 
lowed him. The soldiers and people shouted in a frenzy: "Vive 
fEmpereur!" Their acclaim was so loud that its sound was car- 


ried over the water to the Russian side. In comparison with 
this scene, the little group surrounding Alexander seemed al- 
most negligible. 

The two emperors took their places in their respective boats 
simultaneously. Alexander wore the uniform of the Preobra- 
zhensky Regiment of the Guards. The ribbon of the Grand 
Cross of the Order of Saint Andrew was his only decoration. 
Napoleon was clad in the uniform of the Old Guard with the 
scarlet ribbon of the Legion of Honor across his shoulder and 
the historic little tricornered hat on his head. He stood in the 
prow of his boat, his arms folded on his chest, silent, statuesque, 
the conqueror of the world, "the greatest military leader since 
the rime of Alexander the Great and that of Julius Caesar." 
Slowly the two boats approached the raft. With a sudden effort 
the French rowers brought their boat to moor first. Napoleon 
landed a few seconds before Alexander and hurried forward to 
greet the Russian emperor as he set foot upon the raft. The 
two rivals shook hands, embraced, and without saying a word 
disappeared into the imperial pavilion. Alexander was the first 
to break the silence. 

"I hate the English not less than you do," he said, "and I 
am ready to support you in anything you will undertake against 

"If it is so," Napoleon answered, "then everything can be 
arranged and the peace consolidated." 

Alexander, the diplomat, scored the first touch: he had found 
Napoleon's weak spot. From that point on the duel was nothing 
but a game. After discoursing at length on the "perfidy of 
Albion," Napoleon realized that, after all, the reason for this 
meeting was not the preparation of war against England but 


the mutual desire for peace. He then praised the Russian sol- 
diers whom he had seen in action at Austerlitz, Eilau, and 
Friedland. He compared them to the legendary heroes of an- 
cient Greece and said that the combined armies of Russia and 
France could rule the world, establishing at last an era of peace 
and prosperity. Finally, Napoleon offered Alexander quarters 
in Tilsit, for which occasion the town would be proclaimed 
neutral, in order that the Russian emperor and he could dis- 
cuss the terms of peace and possible alliance unhampered by 
chanceries and secretaries. "In one hour," he said, "we shall 
accomplish more than our plenipotentiaries could do in several 
days. I shall be your secretary and you shall be mine." Alex- 
ander accepted the offer and, on this, the first interview between 
them ended. It had lasted for one hour and fifty minutes. 

During this time, King Frederick William remained on the 
Russian side of the Niemen. Napoleon did not want to include 
him in the negotiations. Nevertheless, he had accompanied 
Alexander in a faint hope that the emperor of the French might 
change his mind. On horseback, he looked longingly toward 
the raft where, perhaps, the fate of his kingdom was being de- 
cided. At one time he even directed his mount into the water 
and stopped only when it had touched his boots. He then re- 
turned ashore, his head bent low, dejected, his whole unpre- 
possessing figure expressing shame and despair. 

In the evening of the next day, Alexander moved into Tilsit. 
Although the town was proclaimed neutral and divided into 
two parts one under French and the other under Russian 
command Napoleon took measures to greet 
guest. As soon as Alexander set foot on shorej 
Niemen, the French artillery saluted him 


Napoleon waited for his new ally at the river. He escorted 
Alexander personally through the lines of the French troops 
which formed a long corridor from the bank of the river to 
Napoleon's residence. During this march along the lined troops, 
although the enemy of yesterday, Alexander was given the 
same honors as would have been accorded an ally. The glorious 
banners, many of them dark from powder smoke and torn in 
battle, were lowered to the ground at his passage. After dinner, 
still accompanied by Napoleon, Alexander proceeded to his 
own residence. That first day, parole, recall, and passwords 
were given to the troops by Napoleon. They were: Alexander, 
Russia, Greatness. The next day it was Alexander's turn and he 
gave: Napoleon, France, Bravery. Thus began the historic days 
at Tilsit during which a new map of Europe was carved out. 

Every morning Count Tolstoy presented himself at Napo- 
leon's house, while Duroc went to Alexander's, to inquire how 
the emperors were feeling and how they had spent the night. 
Then until midday Alexander and Napoleon, like two friends, 
spent their time in inspecting and reviewing the French troops 
quartered in Tilsit and those stationed in the neighborhood of 
the town. They were accompanied by all the marshals and a 
number of generals. Upon returning from these tours Napoleon 
often detained Alexander in his residence and had a change of 
clothes brought for the emperor of Russia. Often, too, Napo- 
leon would lend Alexander his cravats and handkerchiefs. 
When one day Alexander happened to admire Napoleon's 
beautiful traveling toilet set of pure gold, the French emperor 
hastened to present it to him. 

Alexander dined with Napoleon every day. King Frederick 
William had repeatedly asked to be admitted to Tilsit after 


all, the future of his kingdom was at stake. He at last obtained 
the requested permission, but began to annoy both Alexander 
and Napoleon with his unending lamentations. Napoleon 
openly showed his dislike for the Prussian king and more than 
once said that he intended to give Prussia to his own brother, 
Jerome. Once he even told Alexander of his attitude toward 
the latter's unfortunate ally in the following bitter words: "He 
is a nasty king, it is a nasty nation, a nasty army a power which 
has betrayed everyone and should not even exist." After dinner 
Alexander and Napoleon would part in order to rid themselves 
of the presence of King Frederick William. Toward ten 
o'clock in the evening Napoleon would go to the house occupied 
by Alexander, alone, unaccompanied even by his personal aide- 
de-camp, and the two emperors would begin their conversa- 
tions which lasted far into the night. 

Although, officially, the pourparlers for peace were con- 
ducted by Prince Kurakin and Prince Lobanov-Rostovsky, 
representing Russia, and Talleyrand, representing France, Alex- 
ander and Napoleon really settled between themselves the 
terms of the treaty of peace and those of the treaty of alliance. 
Unfortunately, Napoleon's offer to be Alexander's secretary 
and the suggestion that Alexander serve in the same capacity 
for him had its important drawbacks. No record was kept of 
these conversations; so that in years following the Tilsit meet- 
ing, Napoleon was able to instruct Talleyrand to follow the 
terms of the written treaties and to ignore "les belles phrases 
que fai debitees d. Tilsit" 1 Thus it might appear at first glance 
that Alexander was defeated in the diplomatic duel which he 
had determined to win. In reality he was victorious because he 

1 "The pretty words that I said at Tilsit.** 


achieved his aim: to blindfold his opponent, if it were only for 
a short rime and this by all possible sacrifices, in order to pre- 
pare quietly for the final and open struggle on the field of battle. 

During these days in Tilsit both Alexander and Napoleon 
made comments in writing on the strange meeting of a "soldier 
of fortune" and of an "emperor by divine right." Napoleon 
wrote to Empress Josephine: "My dear, I have just seen Em- 
peror Alexander. I was very well pleased with him; he is a very 
handsome, good, and youthful emperor, and he is cleverer 
than he is usually thought to be." 

While Alexander wrote to his beloved sister, the Grand 
Duchess Catherine Pavlovna: 

God has saved us; instead of sacrifices we have come out 
of the fight almost gloriously. But what will you say to all 
these events? // to spend my days 'with Bonaparte, to be 
whole hours engaged in conversation with him! I ask you: 
does not all this seem like a nightmare? It is past midnight and 
he has only just left me. How I wish you could be an in- 
visible witness to all that is happening. Good-by, my dear, 
I do not write to you often, but, on my honor, I have hardly 
a moment in which to breathe. - 

What completely different people Alexander and Napoleon 
appear from these quotations! Napoleon's writing has that 
satisfied parental tone of a person who has expected to meet 
a weakling, an unbalanced youth with conflicting ideas in his 
head, but who has actually encountered a man who "is cleverer 
than he is usually thought to be." On the other hand, Alex- 
ander is filled with surprise to find his opponent easy to handle, 


but he attributes it exclusively to Providence "God has saved 
us." Before going to Tilsit he wrote to his sister, Catherine, 
"Bonaparte thinks I am only a fool. He 'who laughs last laughs 
best! And I place all my hope in God." In 1812, this feeling of 
gratitude to divine powers was transformed in Alexander's soul 
into an assurance that God had selected him not only to save 
Russia but also to avenge the whole world. 

The nightly conversations continued between Alexander and 
Napoleon until July 7, when the peace treaty comprising 
twenty-nine articles, with the addition of seven secret ones, and 
the treaty of alliance were signed. On July 4, Napoleon sent 
Alexander a memorandum accompanied by a short letter in 
which he said: 

Sire, and brother, I am sending to Your Majesty a note 
concerning our discussion. Your Majesty will see from it that 
I desire to hold myself always in a position of friendship and 
alliance with Russia and to avoid anything that could find it- 
self directly or indirectly in opposition with this great and 
beautiful idea. 


The note attached described a new system for the division of 
Europe: the west, together with Egypt and Syria, to be under 
the domination of France; the east, including the Balkans and 
Constantinople, under that of Russia. However, the final text of 
the treaty differed very much from this memorandum which 
raised for the first time the question of Constantinople in the 
light in which it was to be considered by Russia in later years. 
Before the conversations in Tilsit, Alexander had looked upon 


Turkey as rather an inoffensive neighbor. He lacked the am- 
bition of his grandmother, Catherine II, to drive the Turks out 
of Europe. After listening to the flattering words of Napoleon, 
however, he suddenly realized the importance of Constan- 
tinople for Russia. "The key to my house," he was to refer to 
it later. Although Napoleon repeated more than once with 
reference to Turkey that "one should end the existence of 
a state which cannot survive by itself," and notwithstanding 
his personal proposal of July 4, he maintained through Talley- 
rand that it was impossible for him to hand Constantinople 
over to Russia, because "the possession of Constantinople 
assures the control of the whole world." 

The heaviest obligation imposed upon Russia by the treaty 
of Tilsit was to join Napoleon's Continental System directed 
against England, which constituted a severe blow to Russian 
trade, since England was one of her best customers. However, 
Russia was compensated somewhat for the loss of the British 
market by gaining that of the United States, when two years 
after Tilsit she signed a commercial treaty with the young 
overseas republic. Russia also gained a definite advantage from 
this treaty in her relations with Sweden. Napoleon gave his 
formal sanction to Russia's annexation of Finland, explaining: 
"St. Petersburg is too close to the Finnish border; the belles 
of St. Petersburg in their palaces should not be forced to listen 
any more to the roar of Swedish guns." 

On July 9, the treaty was ratified by the two emperors in a 
brilliant and most impressive ceremony at which both Russian 
and French troops assisted. That morning Alexander entrusted 
Prince Kurakin with a mission of honor: he was to present to 
Napoleon five insignia of the Order of Saint Andrew to be 


given to Napoleon himself, to his brother Jerome, king of 
Westphalia, to Murat, Talleyrand, and Marshal Berthier. At 
the same time Duroc presented Alexander, through the inter- 
mediary of Count Tolstoy, with five insignia of the Grand 
Cross of the Legion of Honor for Alexander, the Grand Duke 
Constantine, Baron Budberg, at that time Alexander's Minister 
of Foreign Affairs, and the two Russian plenipotentiaries 
Prince Kurakin and Prince Lobanov-Rostovsky. 

At noon Emperor Alexander, wearing the scarlet ribbon of 
the Legion of Honor, and Napoleon, decorated with the blue 
ribbon of Saint Andrew, left their respective residences on 
horseback to meet halfway up the main street, one side of which 
was occupied by a battalion of the Preobrazhensky Regiment 
and the other by one of the French Guard. From there the two 
emperors proceeded to Alexander's house where the ratifi- 
cation took place. In the same evening Alexander left Tilsit. 
Napoleon accompanied his new ally to the Niemen and there 
the erstwhile enemies embraced in the midst of the jubilations 
of the troops and of the civilian population. Napoleon remained 
on the bank of the river until he saw that Alexander had crossed 
it safely. 

Thus ended the historic days of Tilsit. From the beginning, 
Alexander had set for himself a very difficult task. He knew 
that for the time being he was unable to face his foe in open 
battle, that he needed time and, for the sake of this, he was 
ready to do anything and everything in order not to arouse any 
suspicion in Napoleon's mind anything, even if it were to be 
humiliating. His hatred for Napoleon was not lessened in the 
least; on the contrary, it had received a new incentive in his 
desire for revenge. However, Alexander succeeded in hiding 


his own feelings, playing his chosen role brilliantly to the end. 
Unfortunately, not only the court and the nobility, but even 
the members of his own family did not appreciate Alexander's 
aim. In their eyes, and in the eyes of his former allies, he had 
consorted with the hated Napoleon to the detriment of all 
Europe and the shame of his own country. 



THE DAY of July 17, 1807, was one of the hottest days of that 
eventful summer. Alexander had returned to his capital from 
Tilsit on the day before, and stopped at the Tavrichesky 
Palace, where it was a little cooler than in the Winter Palace. 
That morning he rose early in order to have time to receive 
the reports of his ministers before going to assist at a solemn 
Te Deum in the cathedral. 

At eleven in the morning he left the palace and proceeded 
in an open carriage to the cathedral. Along the way he did not 
meet many people, but when he reached the square before the 
cathedral he saw that it was thronged with his subjects. He 
smiled and acknowledged greetings, although he was conscious 
that the reception was considerably cooler than that to which 
he was accustomed. Still smiling, he scrutinized the faces of 
people lined up all the way to the main entrance of the cathedral 
and noticed that they did not light up when their emperor's 
glance rested upon them, as they had done during the first 
years of his reign. This discovery slowed his gait. He reached 
his place finally, and the Te Deum began. 



Alexander stood alone, his ministers grouped some fifteen 
or twenty feet behind him. The familiar stoop of his shoulders 
seemed to shorten his stature. He stood with his weight resting 
upon his right foot which was slightly advanced. He kept this 
characteristic pose throughout the duration of the religious 
service, often making the sign of the cross and the customary 
genuflections, apparently deeply engrossed in prayer. What a 
turmoil of thoughts must have whirled in his head! The ruler 
of the mightiest empire of his time, he had already suffered two 
shameful defeats: Austerlitz and Friedland. More than that, he 
felt that his recent friendship with the man who had so grossly 
insulted him three years before was a sacrifice which his people 
did not praise because they could not understand. For the first 
time in the six years of his reign he had given up his personal 
ambition and, deeply humiliated, had followed a policy intended 
exclusively to benefit his country. And now his country had 
turned against him. He had seen it in the attitude of the people 
outside the cathedral; he had heard it in the hypocritical voices 
of his ministers when they had congratulated him only that 
morning, in the most flattering manner, for having concluded 
such an advantageous peace. He was conscious that the same 
feeling pervaded the congregation that filled the vast cathedral 
behind him; he was almost certain that even the best and most 
loyal among them were now praying that the Almighty would 
enlighten their ruler and bring him back to the path which, 
he alone seemed to know, meant only ruin to the country. 

He recalled the prophecy of Sevastianov on the eve of his 
departure from the capital to the army in the field where he 
was to witness the shame of Austerlitz. Suddenly another 
recollection fixed itself in his mind. He saw the grim structure 


of Mikhailovsky Castle. Laden with heavy turrets, surrounded 
by a deep moat, somber, sinister, it towered. The chain bridge 
was drawn, the steel water of the moat peered grimly through 
half -melted snow. The silent figures of the sentries, rigid, almost 
statuesque, kept close watch. In the midst of this picture ap- 
peared a small, forlorn-looking man in a long nightshirt, trapped 
in his own bedroom. Alexander passed a hand over his eyes and 
shuddered. Then he turned to the glittering altar in silent quest 
of an answer to his troubled thoughts. "Is this the punishment?" 
But neither the golden cross on the altar nor the sad eyes of the 
holy images responded. 

The new policy inaugurated upon the raft on the Niemen 
River was very unpopular with the most influential members 
of the Russian aristocracy as well as with the people. Admiral 
Shishkov wrote in his diary: 

The Tilsit peace lowered the head of mighty Russia by 
the acceptance of the most humiliating conditions which 
transformed the despised Bonaparte, fearful of our force, 
into the dreaded Napoleon. 

When on August 21, an Imperial Manifesto announced the 
terms of the Tilsit treaty, Admiral Mordvinov wrote to Alex- 

Well, the peace terms which have been kept secret for so 
long are known at last. Your new ally was in a hurry to an- 
nounce to the world through the press the shame which has 
fallen on our heads. The sons of Russia would rather have 
given the last drop of their blood than have bowed in dis- 
grace under the yoke of one who has nothing to his credit 


except that he knew how to use weakness, incapacity, and 

Count S. R. Vorontsov, former Russian ambassador at the 
Court of Saint James, went so far as to propose that the dig- 
nitaries who had signed the Tilsit peace should ride into the 
capital on donkeys; and Nicholas Novossiltsov dared to throw 
openly into Alexander's face the threat that the emperor was 
not immune but should remember the night of March 23, 1801. 

General Savary, who, immediately the treaty of Tilsit was 
signed, was sent to represent Napoleon at the Court of St. 
Petersburg, has left a plaintive record in his memoirs of the 
difficulties with which he had to contend and of the slights he 
had to bear. While Alexander treated him with an affectionate 
cordiality and missed no opportunity of displaying publicly 
the esteem with which he regarded him, the doors of the fash- 
ionable world were resolutely closed against him. 

The common people were no less antagonistic. The anti- 
Napoleonic propaganda spread by order of the government 
during the previous years through the medium of church or- 
ganizations of all denominations now bore its fruit every 
peasant in Russia believed that Napoleon was the anti-Christ. 
As, in addition, they suffered from the economic effects of the 
Continental System, they opposed the new policy vigorously 
and blamed Alexander for all the ills. A contemporary, F. F. 
Viegel, characterizes the effects of the Tilsit meeting in the 
following way: 

This was the time when the most tender love that sub- 
jects can have for their sovereign was suddenly transformed 


into something worse than enmity into a feeling of dis- 
gust. . . . All that a man who was not born to be a great 
general could do was done by Alexander. What could he do 
when he saw the innumerable armies of the enemy facing 
his own defeated troops with only one fresh and intact di- 
vision that of Prince Lobanov-Rostovsky and the all- 
dreaded Napoleon standing on the very border of the Russian 
State? What would these Russians have said if he had permit- 
ted Napoleon to cross that border? ... I come to the con- 
clusion that nations can be as villainous as individuals. 

Such was the situation which Alexander had to face during 
the years that followed the meeting at Tilsit, the years of 
Franco-Russian friendship. 

The immediate result of the Tilsit agreement, apart from the 
open break with England, perhaps as a consequence of it, was 
war between Russia and Sweden. King Gustav IV refused to 
join the Continental System directed against England, and re- 
turned to Emperor Alexander the insignia of the Order of 
Saint Andrew, explaining that it was incompatible with his 
dignity to wear a decoration similar to that granted to Bona- 
parte. Alexander, having obtained by the Tilsit treaty a free 
hand in Finland, seized this opportunity and declared war. 
Strangely enough, this war against an age-old enemy of Russia 
was very unpopular among Alexander's subjects. The reason 
for this lay in the fact that this war meant an indirect thrust at 
England and an affirmation of Russia's friendship with revolu- 
tionary France. 

In the meantime, General Savary was replaced at the Court 
of St. Petersburg by a regular ambassador. This was another 


of Napoleon's generals Caulaincourt. He had been in St. 
Petersburg in 1801 when he was sent by the first consul to the 
Russian court with a friendly mission, though without much 
success. In 1804 he was employed by Napoleon to seize some 
agents of the English government in Baden, which led to the 
unfounded accusation that he was concerned with the abduc- 
tion of the unfortunate Duke d'Enghien. Since this accusation 
was in a way true in the case of General Savary, it gave oppor- 
tunity for some influential Russians to use it as an excuse for 
receiving neither Savary nor Caulaincourt as indirect mur- 
derers of the youthful prince. Caulaincourt had, therefore, 
to fight a serious handicap from the very beginning of his stay 
in Russia. 

It was only through the action of Alexander himself that 
the new French ambassador's mission turned out to be slightly 
less an ordeal than that of General Savary. However, this sit- 
uation gave Alexander the opportunity to make use of Caulain- 
court for his own ends, because his marked friendship and 
Caulaincourt's gratitude for it made the marquis of Royal 
France and general of the revolution a tool in the clever hands 
of the emperor-diplomat. Thus Caulaincourt's reports to Na- 
poleon throughout the years of his mission in St. Petersburg 
reveal that he was not at all aware of Alexander's secret plans, 
for these reports breathe optimism even on the eve of the fate- 
ful year of 1812. 

At this time Napoleon fed his ally with fantastic projects 
for dividing the Ottoman Empire, even for an expedition in 
common to India. Alexander, however, was shrewd enough to 
listen to his ally without giving any serious thought to his 
words. As for Napoleon, once more he had changed the map 


of western Europe; he had invaded Portugal, penetrated in 
the guise of a friend into Spain, and obtained at Bayonne the 
abdication of the Bourbons in his own favor. By a decree he 
named his brother Joseph, then king of Naples, to be king of 
Spain, and gave the vacant throne of Naples to his favorite 
Murat. Napoleon's decrees creating rulers did not differ in 
their general form from his military ordinances appointing 
colonels and generals in the army. For example, the decree 
nominating Murat ran as follows: 

The throne of Naples and Sicily being vacant by the 
accession to the throne of Spain and the Indies of our dear 
and beloved brother Joseph Napoleon, we have ordered: 
our dear and beloved brother-in-law Prince Joachim Napo- 
leon, grand duke of Berg and Cleves, to be king of Naples 
and Sicily from August i, 1808. 

Russia took cognizance of these changes, but very soon 
Napoleon found himself in a difficult position. The Spanish, 
helped by England, drove the French out of Spain. Joseph 
had to leave Madrid, once more a king without a country. 
Taking advantage of this situation Austria was openly pre- 
paring for a new war against the ambitious Corsican. Napo- 
leon felt that he must find support in his Tilsit ally, if he wished 
to maintain his powerful position in Europe. Besides, affairs 
in Russia herself did not look so very encouraging. True, 
Caulaincourt's reports continued to be enthusiastic, but Napo- 
leon knew through his secret agents that Russia steadily opposed 
the new alliance and he was afraid lest Alexander should be in- 
fluenced by the voice of his people. Therefore, Napoleon con- 


sidered a personal meeting with the Russian emperor impera- 

The pourparlers were entrusted to Caulaincourt. 

After prolonged negotiations, Alexander finally agreed to 
meet Napoleon. The place chosen for this meeting was Erfurt, 
a town in Prussian Saxony. This decision brought a new out- 
burst of protests from influential Russian circles. When Alex- 
ander announced his intention to go to Erfurt at a meeting of 
the Imperial Council, the old Count Alexis Sergeyevich Stro- 
ganov declared that as a Russian subject and faithful servant 
of His Majesty he deemed it his duty to rise against such a 
decision of the emperor because, although he was not at all 
opposed to maintaining peace between the two empires, such 
a close alliance was ruinous to Russia's commercial interests. 
As for the Dowager Empress Maria Fyodorovna, she sharply 
observed to Count Nicholas A. Tolstoy, Chief Marshal of the 
Court, upon his bidding her good-by before leaving for Erfurt, 
that she considered him responsible before God and Russia for 
the journey that her son was undertaking. 

On September 14, 1808, a little more than a year after the 
Tilsit meeting, Emperor Alexander left SL Petersburg for 
Erfurt. Caulaincourt was personally invited by Alexander to 
accompany him. After stopping in Konigsberg, where he had 
to listen to the lamentations of the king of Prussia, and in Wei- 
mar where he spent two days with his sister, Grand Duchess 
Maria Pavlovna, Alexander reached Erfurt on September 27. 
Napoleon met his ally on the outskirts of the town. He was 
surrounded by a brilliant suite of kings, princes, and marshals. 
When he saw Alexander's carriage, he galloped forward, dis- 
mounted and embraced Alexander. The two rulers then entered 


Erfurt on horseback, riding side by side, whilst all the guns of 
the French artillery stationed in the town and all the bells of the 
numerous churches of Erfurt greeted the visitor. Napoleon 
accompanied Alexander to his residence. The finest house in 
town had been chosen for Alexander by the express orders of 
the French emperor. 

Napoleon took all possible pains to give to this meeting the 
appropriate setting. Not only were most of his distinguished 
marshals present, but he had permitted all the German princes 
who desired to do so to come to Erfurt. The kings of Bavaria, 
Saxony, Westphalia, and Wiirttemberg, a number of dukes and 
ruling princes, not to mention a crowd of petty princes 
who hoped to get something out of this gathering, swarmed to 
Erfurt. The guard of honor was composed of the best soldiers 
of the Imperial Guard and a number of the best French regi- 
ments were called to the little German city to reinforce its 
garrison. Some of the best actors from Paris came to produce 
for a parterre de rots the classical plays of the French repertoire. 

In the great game that the two allies-enemies were playing, 
Napoleon took the greatest care to mask his real intentions. He 
tried to arouse Alexander's vanity by showing him that nothing 
was too good for the pleasure of the northern Apollo. He sought 
to overwhelm Alexander by the flattering display of royalty, 
gathered by Napoleon's magic wand. Most of all he wanted 
Alexander's help, and to attain this aim it was necessary for him 
to allay every possible suspicion. Napoleon knew he had not 
played fairly since the pact of Tilsit, but he did not know 
whether Alexander was aware of it. As a matter of fact, Alex- 
ander did have knowledge of his "friend's" plotting, especially 
with regard to French propaganda in Little Russia. 


As far back as 1802, when Napoleon was first consul, he had 
entertained the idea of creating trouble for Russia in her south- 
western territories, fimile Godin, French agent in Constan- 
tinople, had worked out a plan for him by means of which 
French influence would be extended in Little Russia in "opposi- 
tion to English influence in Great Russia." He recommended 
the establishment of French trading posts directed by govern- 
ment officials or army officers on the coast of the Black Sea. 
Foreseeing a possible war between Russia and Turkey for the 
possession of the Straits, Godin recommended the exploitation 
of the budding nationalist movement in Little Russia. This plan 
was adopted by Napoleon in later years and developed particu- 
larly after the Tilsit meeting. According to this enlarged plan, 
Little Russia was to be established as an independent state under 
the personal rule of the French emperor. It was to be called Les 
Napoleonides and to serve as "a most powerful barrier to 
Russia's aspirations with regard to the Black Sea and the Bos- 

After 1807, this plan was revived and a number of French 
agents sent into Little Russia. It shows that Napoleon also 
looked upon the Tilsit agreement as only temporary, and 
used all possible means to undermine the power of his ally 
and inevitable enemy. With this in view, he had also ordered 
General Savary, his personal representative at the Court of 
St. Petersburg, to provide himself with a die in order to be able 
to manufacture Russian bank notes. All this only a few days 
after the embraces at Tilsit! Savary fulfilled his mission and Na- 
poleon ordered the manufacture of Russian counterfeit bank 
notes which, in 1 8 1 2, he imported on thirty-four carts into Rus- 
sia. It was of no avail. The Russians refused to trade with the in- 


vaders in any form or manner and Marshal Mortier had to burn 
his load before evacuating Moscow. 

Thus the two allies who met in Erfurt were both playing the 
little game of cat and mouse, in which each believed himself to 
be the cat. Following the example of Tilsit, the two emperors 
renewed their meetings alone, unhampered by ministers and 
secretaries. But this time Napoleon found in Alexander a very 
different man from the one he had known a year ago. While 
at Tilsit it was Alexander who wanted to soothe Napoleon's 
irritability by all possible means, because he had to save his 
empire from invasion, at Erfurt it was Napoleon's turn to use 
all his diplomacy to win Alexander over to his cause, because 
this time it was he who needed Alexander's help. 

Fearing the inevitability of a war with Austria, Napoleon 
suggested joint action on the part of France and Russia in order 
to exercise pressure on the Vienna cabinet even to the extent 
of demanding complete disarmament. Alexander refused to 
accede to this plan. He preferred to use an amicable way of 
inducing Austria not to violate the existing peace. An exchange 
of ideas on this subject ended with the following incident: 
Napoleon became furious and throwing his hat on the floor 
began to trample on it. Alexander smiled and said quite calmly: 
"You are violent and I am stubborn; with me rage does not 
gain anything. Let's talk and reason or else I shall go." 

As Alexander turned to the door, Napoleon controlled his 
temper and kept his ally for a continuation of the discussion. 
To Caulaincourt he later said: "Your Emperor Alexander is 
as stubborn as a mule: he does not listen to what he does not 
want to hear." 

On another occasion, however, it was Alexander's turn to 


beat a retreat when he asked Napoleon to evacuate Prussia 
completely as a token of his peaceful attitude toward Russia 
and Europe at large. This Napoleon refused to do because it 
would have placed him in a strategically inferior position to 
Austria. He then proposed to settle his dispute with Austria 
right away, and this time Alexander had to yield and to with- 
draw his proposal. It was obvious that the two emperors had 
ceased to be allies, but they both continued to maintain the 
subterfuge because neither was then ready for the final strug- 


Alexander became completely persuaded at Erfurt that it 
was not Austria with her military preparations that threatened 
the peace of Europe, but Napoleon's secret plans for further 
and still more extensive conquests. He was confirmed in this 
opinion by Talleyrand. The cleverest foreign minister that 
France has ever had is said to have betrayed his master because 
of a desire to marry his nephew and heir into the Russian im- 
perial family, preferably to Alexander's youngest sister Grand 
Duchess Anna Pavlovna. He did not fully succeed in realizing 
this ambition; still he obtained for his nephew the hand of the 
Duchess of Kurland. At his first opportunity, in Erfurt, Talley- 
rand approached Alexander and gave him the following advice: 

You are predestined to save Europe and you will be 
able to do it only if you do not give in to Napoleon. The 
French nation is civilized, but its sovereign is not; the Russian 
sovereign is civilized, whilst his people are not. Therefore, 
the Russian emperor should be an ally of the French people 
and not of the French emperor. 

Empress Elisabeth Alexeycvna 

Grand Duchess Catherine 

Count Paul Stroganov Count Victor Kochubcy 

Nicholas Novossfltsov Prince Adam Czartoryski 


At another meeting he spoke even with greater precision: 
"The Rhine, the Alps and the Pyrenees are conquests of France. 
The rest is only a conquest of the emperor. France does not 
care about it." 

These treacherous words, spoken by the former Bishop of 
Autun, served only to fortify Alexander in his belief that Napo- 
leon was a menace to civilization. It was obvious to him that he 
should hasten the coming of the final struggle. 

The Erfurt meeting ended with the signing of a secret con- 
vention between Napoleon and Alexander which was of no 
material importance except that it gave Russia a free hand in 
Turkish affairs and engaged Russia to stand by France in a war 
against Austria. On October 14, Alexander and Napoleon left 
the town together and parted on the road to Weimar never 
to meet again. Alexander was no longer afraid of his oppo- 

He returned to St. Petersburg on October 28. The capital 
received the return of the emperor under the same cloud of 
suspicion that had prevailed since the signing of the Tilsit treaty. 
The people did not know the results of the new meeting, the 
secret convention not having been divulged. And Alexander 
found himself in a position even more difficult than that which 
had existed before his departure to Erfurt. Something had to 
be done to pacify the passions of the people first of all their 
passion for material gain so common to every nation and age. 
Since trade with England was prohibited, and France together 
with the other members of the Continental System could not 
offer a convenient market for Russian goods, it was necessary 
to find new customers. Alexander turned to the new but promis- 


ing overseas republic, the United States of America, as a 
solution of this problem. 

In 1806, Alexander had met and conversed at length with 
Joel R. Poinsett, who was probably the greatest American 
traveler of his time. Thus America and the American people 
were not unknown to the Russian emperor. At that time the 
United States was finding it difficult to continue her trade 
under the effective blockade by England of most of the ports 
of western Europe, and when Alexander suggested to President 
James Madison the exchange of diplomatic representatives 
between Russia and the United States, the proposal was 
promptly accepted by the young republic. John Quincy 
Adams became the first American envoy accredited to the 
Court of St. Petersburg. When he arrived in the capital of the 
Russian Empire, he had already heard much of the Russian em- 
peror. But all his greatest expectations were surpassed by the 
gracious simplicity and democratic friendliness with which 
Alexander greeted the envoy plenipotentiary of the new re- 
public, which many people of the time still considered to be 
nothing more than a revolted colony of Great Britain. 

There can be no doubt that Alexander wished to attach 
to himself this newcomer from beyond the seas, because he 
already realized the importance of the role the United States 
was to play in the life of nations. So he arranged to meet 
John Quincy Adams in the mornings when the latter took his 
daily walk along the embankments of the Neva. Knowing 
the hour and the itinerary of the American envoy, who method- 
ically changed neither, it was easy for Alexander to meet Adams 
"accidentally" and to talk to him about the weather, about 
Russia, and the United States, about Europe and the political 


situation. For more than an hour the two "republicans" would 
converse, apparently pleased with each other. These conver- 
sations benefited both the United States and Russia to a far 
greater extent than a number of conferences would ever have 
done, because the friendship that grew up between Alexander 
and Adams, and between Adams and Alexander's chancellor, 
Count Rumiantsov, led to the conclusion of a very favorable 
commercial treaty. This treaty relieved the tension in Russia, 
at least for a time. The end of the war with Sweden also pleased 
the people. But the danger of an Austro-French war was once 
more a threat to Russia's tranquillity. 

In February, 1809, Prince Schwarzenberg arrived in St. 
Petersburg with a special mission from Emperor Francis to 
explain to Alexander the reasons for Austria's anti-French 
attitude and to ask the Russian emperor for the maintenance of 
a benevolent neutrality in the forthcoming conflict. This Alex- 
ander was unable to promise in view of the Erfurt convention, 
but he assured the Austrian envoy that he would do everything 
possible to weaken the blows intended for Austria. He added 
that his situation appeared to him to be hopelessly unnatural, 
since he could not help wishing all success to the Austrians 
although he belonged to the opposite camp. At the same time 
Alexander assured Caulaincourt that he would stand by Napo- 
leon in case of a war with Austria. Nevertheless, when the 
Austrians declared war on April 10, 1809, and Caulaincourt 
demanded action, Alexander used all sorts of excuses to delay 
the inevitable entrance into a war in which his sympathies were 
with the enemy. It was only on June 3, many weeks after Napo- 
leon had beaten the Austrian army and captured Vienna, that 
thirty-two thousand men of the Russian army crossed the f ron- 


tier into Austria. Napoleon raged at the way Caulaincourt was 
led to believe in Russia's effective help, and expressed it to his 
ambassador in a furious letter; but Caulaincourt was helpless 
in the clever hands of Alexander the Charmer. 

When Austria met with defeat, Alexander became worried. 
He felt the approach of the hour for his own open struggle 
with Napoleon. At that time, Alexander's personal friend, 
Prince Peter Volkonsky, whom he had sent upon a mission 
to Napoleon, reported that at a dinner the all-powerful Bona- 
parte took an apple and said: "The world is like this apple. We 
can cut it into halves and divide it between ourselves. Tell your 
sovereign that I am his friend and that he should avoid those 
who want us to quarrel." To this the pupil of La Harpe re- 
marked: "At the beginning he would be satisfied with one half, 
then he would work up an appetite for the other half also." 

The estrangement between Alexander and Napoleon grew 
rapidly. An unsuccessful attempt on the part of Napoleon 
to marry Alexander's sister, the Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna, 
the future queen of the Netherlands, only made matters worse. 
On November 22, 1809, Napoleon ordered Caulaincourt to 
request the hand of the grand duchess, and demanded an answer 
within forty-eight hours. Alexander, however, was not ready 
to refuse at once. He placed the whole matter in his mother's 
hands, thus delaying an answer. The dowager empress con- 
ferred with the Grand Duchess Catherine and finally decided, 
on February 4, 1810, to accept the offer but only on the con- 
dition that the marriage should not take place for two years 
as the Grand Duchess Anna was barely fifteen years of age. 
In the meantime, foreseeing a refusal, Napoleon had turned to 
Austria. There the matter was settled within twenty-four 


hours. While the courier bearing Alexander's conditional ac- 
ceptance of Napoleon's proposal was on his way to Paris, Napo- 
leon's betrothal to the Archduchess Maria-Louisa was officially 
announced, and the marriage ceremony followed shortly. 

The game of cat and mouse was coming to an end. 

On the eve of his epic struggle with "the enemy of mankind" 
Alexander tried desperately to regain the confidence of his 
people without whose wholehearted support he could not 
possibly carry out his plans. To achieve this end he had to make 
many sacrifices including the expiatory offering on the altar of 
the god of war of the last and most brilliant of his enlightened 
collaborators Michael Speransky, whose far-sighted policy 
of reform dominated the internal affairs of Russia during the 
years after Tilsit. 

Unlike Alexander's earlier collaborators, Speransky, born 
on January 12,1772, was not of noble birth. The son of a village 
priest, he was expected to follow his father's career, as was cus- 
tomary in those times. But an ecclesiastical career did not tempt 
young Speransky, and when he had completed his studies at 
the seminary in St. Petersburg he sought a position in the civil 
service. At the outset of his career he had the good fortune to 
obtain a position as tutor to the children of Prince Kurakin. 
He knew Latin and Greek perfectly as well as French, but his 
particular talent revealed itself in the flawless mastery of his 
native tongue, both written and spoken. His career as a tutor 
soon came to an end when Prince Alexis Kurakin, Attorney 
General in the reign of Emperor Paul, became awaf 
sky's talent and placed him in his own chaj 
young clerk soon rose to the predominanj 
valuable Chief of Chancery whose servi^ 


not only by Prince Kurakin himself, but also by his successors 
in office. 

The creation of ministries in 1802 assured Speransky's bril- 
liant future. He was transferred to the new Ministry of the 
Interior and immediately taken under the wing of such a power- 
ful man as Count Kochubey, then Minister of the Interior the 
emperor's personal friend of long standing. All the projects of 
reforms concerning the new ministry were written by Speran- 
sky and because of their exceptional brilliance were published 
for general circulation. This had never been done before. Under 
Speransky the Ministry of the Interior also started another 
undertaking which was considered almost revolutionary by 
reactionary contemporaries. Beginning with 1804 the Ministry 
of the Interior began to publish an official monthly review 
under the title, The Review of St. Petersburg. This publication 
contained the most important imperial and ministerial decrees, 
reports, and projects of reforms, most of them composed by 
Speransky or at least revised by him. An unofficial part of the 
review contained original and translated works on state ad- 

It was only in 1 806 that Speransky became personally known 
to Alexander. In that year Count Kochubey had been ill for a 
long time, so that it was Speransky who presented the reports 
of the Ministry of the Interior to the emperor. Very often 
Alexander would retain the young reformer beyond the usual 
time alloted an official audience and would discuss with him the 
numerous projects for the betterment of the people's life in 
general, for the perfection of the machine of state, etc. Speran- 
sky's clear and calm reasoning, his perfect mastery of the Rus- 
sian language, the evident appearance of a future statesman, 


respectful but without flattery, appealed to Alexander. Speran- 
sky was so different from the rest of the employees of the state. 
One of his bitter enemies had said of him, "If I had but one- 
third of Speransky's brains I would be the greatest man of my 
time." And so, in the difficult years after Tilsit, when Alexander 
needed a helping hand after his enlightened but theoretical 
friends of the first years of his reign had left him, it was to 
Michael Speransky that he turned. 

In 1 808, Nicholas Novossiltsov, the last of the group of "re- 
formers," definitely abandoned his active participation in the 
government. After this Alexander called for Speransky whose 
official status became "attached to the person of His Imperial 
Majesty for special affairs" and whose work consisted in pre- 
senting reports on the functioning of the government. On De- 
cember 27 of the same year Speransky was appointed Assistant 
Minister of Justice with a special assignment to take over the 
codification of Russian laws which had been started in 1803 by 
an appointed commission. At the same time he was entrusted 
with the delicate task of preparing a constitution for Russia, one 
of Alexander's cherished dreams. Speransky plunged headlong 
into this immense undertaking, and very soon not only all legis- 
lation but all the affairs of state in general became centered in 
his hands. He became, according to the saying of a contempo- 
rary, that spot of light toward which all the beams of the empire 

Having started with the codification of laws, Speransky soon 
found himself discussing with Alexander the idea of a general 
reorganization of the state. This idea appealed to both the em- 
peror and his minister. A new and vaster field of activity was 
thrown open for Speransky, the reformer. For two years he 


worked like a slave carrying out a tremendous task concerned 
not only with the regulation and control of the machine of state 
but also with a complete change of the most important parts 
of the structure of the state. By November, 1809, the work 
had been completed in all its details. The project was based 
mainly on the Code Napoleon and partly on the French con- 
stitution of 1799. The guiding thought governing the project 
was the centralization of power. From the emperor through the 
State Council, which was to serve as a link between the auto- 
cratic power of Alexander and the state adminstration, the 
power of government was to be exercised by three principal 
institutions: the State Duma (legislative), the ministries (ex- 
ecutive) and the Senate (judiciary). From these institutions, 
branches went down the pyramid joining it to the top, the 
emperor, with its base, the people. 

Speransky's work seemed perfect and easily applicable to 
Russia if he had not stood alone, if he had had collaborators, 
men of vision like himself, who would have been capable of 
filling all the posts in his vast project. This, combined with 
Alexander's personal fear of breaking completely with all the 
past institutions, prevented Russia's great statesman from carry- 
ing out his gigantic plan. Alexander agreed only to the establish- 
ment of the State Council which was opened with great solem- 
nity on January 13, 1810 (Russia's New Year). On this oc- 
casion Alexander delivered a speech (written by Speransky and 
only slightly edited by the emperor) "full of a feeling of dignity 
and of such ideas as have never as yet been pronounced from the 
throne in Russia." Speransky was appointed Secretary of State 
and Count Joseph de Maistre, envoy plenipotentiary of the 
king of Sardinia, characterized him in one of his reports as "the 


great and almighty Speransky, secretary general of the empire 
and in fact prime minister, if not the minister." 

The years 1810 and 181 1 marked the zenith of Speransky's 
career. It is perhaps paradoxical that the very greatness of his 
position in the empire contributed to his downfall. On the 
heights that he had reached he was alone, since he was a states- 
man and not a politician, a reformer and not a diplomat, be- 
cause he despised the idle crowd of courtiers and valued above 
all else intelligent work. He forgot that politicians or courtiers 
very often have more power and influence than the real builders 
of the state. The Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich tells, 
in his monumental work on Alexander I, of the reasons which 
contributed to Speransky's downfall: 

It is in the personal relations between Alexander and Spe- 
ransky, daily sincere Delations full of living trust, that one 
should look for the root of the misunderstanding which led 
to the final disgrace. By showing such an extraordinary favor 
to one person, by granting him such extensive power, having 
placed Speransky at the head of numerous institutions begin- 
ning with the Chancery of the Empire and ending with the 
Chancellorship of the University of Abo, Alexander had 
alienated all people without exception. Speransky found him- 
self isolated. He had no friends while enemies surrounded 
him. But he paid not the slightest attention to his enemies 
(in fact, he did not know how to fight intrigue) and did not 
look for friends; all of his talent, all his creative energy, the 
whole of himself he gave to his emperor, firmly trusting in 
his protection and giving no thought to the possibility of 
losing it. For two years everything went smoothly, every- 


thing and everyone submitted and bowed to the tsar's 
favorite, a former seminarist and son of a poor village priest. 
At that time Speransky indeed governed Russia. 

The unpopularity of the Tilsit alliance had its direct bearing 
on the final events that led to Speransky's downfall. The fact 
that Speransky had largely used French legislation as a basis 
for his state reforms sufficed to throw in his face the ignominious 
accusation of treason. Alexander resisted the constantly grow- 
ing pressure of attacks on his favorite until he felt that he could 
do so no longer as his own popularity was at stake. At the same 
time the formidable array of accusations piled up against Spe- 
ransky were convincing enough to create in the emperor's mind 
a feeling of doubt as to the complete innocence of his minister. 

On March 29, 1 8 1 2, a Sunday, Speransky came down to din- 
ner in an excellent frame of mind. He had aged considerably 
during the last two years. His hair had become sparser and silver 
strands appeared on his temples. He looked much older than his 
forty years. He had worked all that morning notwithstanding 
the fact that the day was one of rest. 

During the dinner a messenger from the palace brought an 
order that the emperor would see him that very evening at 
eight o'clock. It was not the first time that Speransky had thus 
been called to the emperor, so that this evening he left his home 
without suspecting what awaited him in the Winter Palace. 
On reaching the emperor's anteroom, Speransky found waiting 
there a general aide-de-camp and two cabinet ministers. He was 
called into Alexander's study. Alexander was standing in the 
middle of the vast room in semi-darkness. Only two chan- 
deliers placed on the emperor's large desk lit the room. Alex- 


ander seemed to be worried. His face was stern, but he did not 
lift his eyes to Speransky. He was not prepared to meet the 
frank look of his collaborator and favorite, because he knew 
that Speransky was not guilty of that which he was about to 
be accused. For two hours the three men in the anteroom 
waited. From time to time they heard through the closed doors 
the sound of voices. At the beginning, Speransky's voice was 
heard more clearly; at the end of the interview it was reduced 
almost to a whisper, while Alexander's tone grew louder and 
louder. Then the door opened and Speransky stepped out of 
the emperor's study. He was very pale and visibly moved. 
Hastily he assembled his papers and placed them in his brief- 
case, bade good-by to the two ministers and departed. The all- 
powerful minister was no more. 

When Speransky reached his home he found waiting for 
him General Balashov, then Minister of Police, and General 
de Sanglain who were among the leaders of the campaign 
against him. They were both very much relieved when they 
saw Speransky, for they were not at all sure that he would not 
be able to persuade the emperor of his innocence, and this 
would probably have meant their own banishment. General 
Balashov sealed all Speransky's papers and invited him to pro- 
ceed to his place of exile Nizhni-Novgorod. Speransky 
left the capital an hour after his return home without even 
bidding good-by to his family; he did not have the courage to 
face them. 

When Speransky had left the emperor's study, one of the 
waiting cabinet ministers Prince Alexander Golitsyn, Minister 
of Cults, and Alexander's personal friend was called to the 
emperor. He found Alexander in tears. He inquired the reason 


for such display of emotion. Alexander answered, "If you had 
your arm cut off, you would probably scream and howl from 
pain. I have lost Speransky and he was my right arm." 

The banishment of Speransky marked the end of the last 
period of reform in Alexander's reign. This period was ap- 
parently but an interlude in the Russian emperor's struggle to 
assure peace to Europe by defeating Napoleon. That spring of 
1812, which witnessed the dismissal of one of Russia's greatest 
statesmen, was pregnant with the approaching thunder of 
combat. The game of cat and mouse was ended. A battle of 
titans was to begin. 



IN 1812, Emperor Alexander was thirty-five, but he looked 
much younger than his age. Notwithstanding his fine and 
regular features and good complexion, his physical beauty 
was less striking at first glance than the expression of benevo- 
lence which captured all hearts and instantly inspired trust. 
His noble, tall and majestic figure, often inclined in graceful 
posture reminiscent of ancient statues, was threatened by 
corpulence although he was exceptionally well built. His 
eyes, of the color of a cloudless sky, were clever and alert; 
he was a little nearsighted, but he was a master of the smile 
of the eyes (le sourire des yeux), if one can thus characterize 
his expression which was filled with kindness and affection. 
His nose was straight and finely shaped, his mouth small and 
agreeable, the contour of his face and his profile reminded one 
of his beautiful mother. A slight baldness over his forehead 
made his face look open and even serene. His golden blond 
hair, carefully dressed like that on the heads of beautiful 
cameos or of ancient medals, seemed to have been predes- 
tined to be crowned by a triple crown of laurel, olive and 
myrtle leaves. 



Although this fervent description of Alexander was made 
by an ardent admirer of the Russian emperor Countess de 
Choiseul-Gouffier it is corroborated by the testimony of other 
contemporaries. Alexander was, in 1 8 1 2, in full possession of his 
mental and physical faculties, no longer the enthusiastic in- 
experienced young man of Austerlitz or even of Friedland. 
After Tilsit and Erfurt he discovered not only what Napoleon's 
ambitions and desires were but also how to oppose them by 
what he himself wanted. Napoleon was to find a worthy op- 
ponent in Alexander this time. 

Toward the middle of 1 8 1 1 , Napoleon's preparations for war 
had already progressed to such an extent that he was able to show 
his temper with regard to Russia. It was his custom to let 
Europe know whenever he was on the eve of another war. In 
the evening of August 1 5, at a solemn reception in the Tuileries 
Palace, in the presence of the entire diplomatic corps, he made 
a scene with the Russian ambassador, Prince Kurakin, which 
bore extraordinary resemblance to the comedy he had played 
with the British ambassador, Lord Whitworth, in 1803, and 
with the Austrian ambassador, Count Metternich, in 1808. 
In a loud voice, so that everyone could hear him, for two solid 
hours Napoleon piled up an imposing array of accusations 
against Russia. 

Previous to this outburst, Napoleon had relieved Caulain- 
court of his ambassadorial post in St. Petersburg and had re- 
placed him by Count Lauriston. When Caulaincourt was 
received in a farewell audience by Alexander, the Russian em- 
peror frankly indicated to him what he thought of the situation 
and what he was ready to do: 

"EN GARDE" in 

I have not such generals as yours, and I am not such a 
military leader and administrator as Napoleon, but I have 
good soldiers, a faithful people, and we would rather die in 
combat than allow ourselves to be dealt with as the people of 
Holland or Hamburg. Still, I assure you on my honor that 
I will not fire the first shot. I will let you cross the Niemen 
and I will not cross it myself. Be assured that I will not de- 
clare war on you. I do not want a war; my people, although 
insulted by the attitude of your emperor toward me, are 
opposed to war as much as I am, because they know its dan- 
gers. However, if we are attacked we shall know how to 
defend ourselves. 

These words reveal exactly Alexander's plan of the rime. 
Notwithstanding Napoleon's threats, Alexander was deter- 
mined to wait for his aggression. 

As for Napoleon, he counted on a wavering Alexander and 
was sure he would win by a sudden attack with all his forces. 
His plan had already been elaborated on March 16, 1810, 
in a secret memorandum. Napoleon's marital alliance with the 
Hapsburg family was at the bottom of this plan. The mem- 
orandum stated the inevitability of an understanding between 
Russia and England that would lead France to undertake severe 
measures directed against her Tilsit ally. The war against Russia 
was to be the beginning of a new rearrangement of the map of 
Europe including the restoration of Poland. The empire of 
Charlemagne was to appear, not only re-established, but con- 
siderably "enlarged and fortified in the light of the civilization 
of ten centuries." Furthermore, to General Wrede of the 


Bavarian army Napoleon declared: "In three years' time I will 
be master of the universe." 

Alexander awaited the coming war with confidence. He 
took all possible measures to assure himself of as great an ad- 
vantage as possible. For this purpose he opened negotiations 
with Sweden and assured himself of the alliance of this age- 
old rival of Russia in the north of Europe. This was achieved 
mainly because Alexander knew how to flatter the ambitions 
of Napoleon's former marshal, Bernadotte, then crown prince 
of Sweden. 

The prohibition of trade with England, which Napoleon 
imposed on Sweden in 181 1 as part of his Continental System, 
had the same ruinous effects on that country as it had on Rus- 
sia. Under these circumstances the natural step for Sweden to 
take, in order to protect her interests, was to join France's 
enemies, foremost of whom were Russia and England; yet the 
Swedish people recalled only too vividly the recent war with 
Russia which had ended in the annexation of Finland by Swe- 
den's neighbor. As for England her government was suspicious 
of Bernadotte, because of his past connection with Napoleon, 
and was reluctant to open negotiations unless the crown prince 
should manifest his change of views in some very obvious way. 
It seemed, therefore, that the first step for Sweden to take would 
be to come to some understanding with Alexander, a step which 
should solve the entire problem because it would not only 
guarantee Sweden's security along its northern frontier but it 
would also be that obvious manifestation the English expected. 
When early in 1812 the French marshal, Davout, occupied 
Swedish Pomerania, Bernadotte hesitated no longer; and on 
April 5, Count Lowenhielm, special envoy of Sweden to the 

GARDE" 113 

Court of St. Petersburg, signed a treaty of alliance with Russia. 
In order to divert popular ambition from the reconquest of 
Finland, lost in 1809 to Russia, Bernadotte's policy was to 
acquire Norway. Alexander readily agreed to this demand on 
the part of the prince royal of Sweden, because Norway then 
belonged to Denmark and the Danish king was a staunch sup- 
porter of Napoleon. Alexander was now assured that in the 
forthcoming struggle against Napoleon his right wing was 

The successful solution of the Swedish problem was out- 
balanced by Alexander's failure to win Poland to his side. Not- 
withstanding the bitter disappointment in Alexander that the 
Poles felt when, in 1805, he had failed to fulfill their desires 
to restore an independent Poland, Alexander began once more 
to discuss the whole Polish question with Prince Adam Czar- 
toryski, who had served in previous years as intermediary be- 
tween the Russian emperor and the leaders of the Polish nation. 
It seems that as late as June, 1812, Alexander was still under 
the impression that he might attract Polish sympathies to his 
side. On June 4, however, Prince Adam wrote a pathetic letter 
in which he described his difficult situation because his own 
father and other members of his family had openly embraced 
Napoleon's cause. "If Napoleon were really to do something 
magnificent for Poland, what fate awaits those Poles who did 
not follow him?" Czartoryski exclaimed; adding, "Only an 
imperial manifesto (by Alexander) announcing the complete 
restoration of Poland in her territorial limits of 1772 could 
meet the necessities of the moment. A partial restoration would 
not satisfy anyone." Nine days later, having decided to espouse 
Napoleon's cause, Prince Adam wrote to Alexander again: 


Before this letter reaches you, Sire, something important 
will have happened with regard to my country. Any procla- 
mation of Your Majesty having a similar aim in view will 
be belated. . . . I can foresee its timeliness only in the event 
that victories and conquests would place Your Majesty in 
a position to be listened to. 

Far gone were the days of 1805 when even Poniatowski, 
the pretender to the Polish throne, was ready to acclaim Alex- 
ander as king of Poland. At present, it was a careful bargaining 
in which both sides wanted to gain most and to pay least. Alex- 
ander's position was decidedly less favorable than that of Napo- 
leon; the Poles had been disappointed by the Russian emperor, 
while the disappointment in Napoleon was still to come. 

Meanwhile, the situation between France and Russia grew 
more tense day by day. In November, 181 1, Alexander wrote 
to his sister the Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna: "We are 
constantly on the alert; hostilities may break out at any mo- 
ment." In the same letter Alexander added: "I have never as 
yet led such a dogged existence; I arise from my bed only to 
sit down to my desk and I leave my desk only to eat a bit all 

A month later hostilities started in Naples where the Russian 
envoy, Prince Dolgoruky, and Baron Durand, Minister of 
France, fought a duel. By February, 1812, both the Russian 
and French armies were ordered to occupy their positions 
near the frontier. To a question of Count de Saint-Julien, Am- 
bassador of Austria, as to what Alexander expected from an 
encounter with such a terrible opponent, Alexander observed: 
"I am ready to suffer some defeats at the beginning, but they 

"EN GARDE" 115 

will not discourage me. In beating a retreat I shall place a desert 
between our armies: I shall evacuate everyone and everything." 

In March, 1812, Bernadotte recommended that Alexander 
should persevere and should not fear to use retreat as a weapon 
against his enemy. He wrote: "The end of Napoleon will 
come from Alexander as that of Charles XII came from Peter 
the Great." In the same month, Alexander assured General 
Knesebeck that u he would rather retreat to Kazan than sign 
a dishonorable peace"; and on July 4, when Napoleon had 
already penetrated deep into Russia, Alexander wrote to Ber- 
nadotte in answer to an anxious letter from the prince royal 
of Sweden: "Let Your Highness be assured now that this 
struggle has started, I am determined to make it last for years 
even if I have to fight on the banks of the Volga." 

It seems that as much before the fight as after it had started, 
Alexander's decision was to make it a struggle for life or death. 
He remained firm in this decision and thus saved not only his 
throne but also Russia and the rest of the world. 

At the same time, Napoleon opposed Alexander's military 
plan or, more exactly, lack of any plan, with an elaborate and 
logically thought-out campaign. He said to Metternich: 

My enterprise belongs to those which are achieved by 
patience. The triumph will belong to the most patient one. 
I shall open my campaign by crossing the Niemen. I shall end 
it in Smolensk and Minsk. There I shall stop. I shall fortify 
my position in these two towns and shall proceed to Vilno 
where I shall hold my general headquarters for the winter 
and organize Lithuania which is longing to throw off the 
Russian yoke. We shall then see which of us will be the first 


to tire: I from keeping my army supplied at Russia's cost or 
Alexander from having to keep my army on Russian soil. 

When Metternich inquired what Napoleon would do if the 
occupation of Lithuania did not bring Alexander to terms, 
Napoleon replied: "Then after spending a comfortable winter 
I shall march to the center of Russia and in 181 3 I shall be just 
as patient as in 1 8 1 2. The whole issue is only a question of time." 

Unfortunately for Napoleon he had to change his perfectly 
balanced, strategical plan because of political considerations. 
In order to be able to stop in Minsk and Smolensk it was neces- 
sary that this campaign be as brilliant as those of 1805, 1806, 
1809. Otherwise Paris and Europe might feel disappointment. 
The prestige of his name and of the entire empire demanded 
that this war should be a grand coup. Napoleon feared that 
if the war should drag along, France might become turbulent 
and his vassal states rise in open revolt and who knew what 
all this might lead to? So Napoleon, after he had crossed the 
Niemen, decided to cut the Russian armies in two in order to 
produce one of these desired grands coups. This plan failed. 
Prince Bagration, commanding the Second Russian Army, 
escaped the danger of being surrounded and joined the First 
Army below Smolensk. Napoleon then tried to break through 
Smolensk and appear in the rear of the Russians. This would 
have been a grand coup too. This time Nevierovsky in the 
battle of Krasny prevented its realization. Even the capture 
of Smolensk which had cost an enormous price in men was of 
no great strategical importance at this moment. Europe was 
waiting and Napoleon simply could not afford to stop in Smo- 
lensk. Consequently he decided to push farther into the heart 

"EN GARDE" 117 

of Russia, still hoping for a definite and brilliant success. He 
was certain that the Russians would defend Moscow, that in 
doing so they would meet a crushing defeat, and that once 
Moscow was in his hands he would have Alexander at his feet 
begging for mercy. This second plan was to be realized per- 
fectly except for its last part: Alexander remained steadfast 
in his decision, notwithstanding all the difficulties he had to 

On April 21, 1812, Emperor Alexander left St. Petersburg 
on his way to Vilno in order to be nearer to his troops, since 
Napoleon's army had now reached Konigsberg on its way to 
the Niemen. The same day Count Rumiantsov assured the 
French ambassador: 

His Imperial Majesty begs to communicate to the French 
emperor that he remains his friend and his faithful ally in 
Vilno as much as in St. Petersburg and that his journey has 
but one aim: to prevent his generals from making some rash 
decision which might provoke the opening of hostilities. 

At the same time Napoleon's ambassador, Count Lauriston, 
had received orders from his master to make any engagement 
not in writing, however to the effect that the French army 
had no intention of crossing the Russian border, going even so 
far as to issue an order to the army when it would reach the 
Niemen to stop its advance, with the understanding that such 
an order would not be complied with because the ambassador 
had no authority to command the armed forces. With his plan 
based upon patience, Napoleon wanted to gain a strategic 
position from which to strike best. 


On April 26, which day was Palm Sunday, the firing of 
guns and the ringing of bells at two o'clock in the afternoon 
announced to the people of Vilno the arrival of Emperor Alex- 
ander. The capital of Lithuania tendered Alexander a most 
magnificent reception. It seemed that Napoleon was misin- 
formed when he spoke about Lithuania "longing to throw off 
the Russian yoke/' but time was to show that these same people 
would greet Napoleon just as enthusiastically as they were now 
greeting Alexander. True, perhaps, was F. F. Viegel's remark 
that "nations can be as villainous as individuals." 

In Vilno the ruling class was composed of Poles, and Alex- 
ander proceeded to win them to his cause. Distinctions of all 
sorts were heaped upon them. Not only did many Polish 
nobles and officials receive decorations and court titles, but a 
number of fiscal measures were revoked by the emperor, 
thereby freeing estates and estate owners from seizure and 
taxation legally imposed upon them by the Russian administra- 
tion. At the same time, Alexander took pains to exercise his 
charm on the Polish patriots, dancing with the ladies and flat- 
tering the ambitions of the men. 

In the meantime, hearing of Alexander's journey to Vilno, 
Napoleon also left his capital, and proceeded to Dresden. In 
order to gain more time, which was necessary for the con- 
centration of his troops, he dispatched a special envoy to Alex- 
ander Count de Narbonne whom he entrusted with a con- 
fidential mission: to obtain information about Alexander's 
plans under the pretense of a last offer for peace. Napoleon 
was afraid lest the Russians should invade East Prussia and 
the Duchy of Warsaw before he had time to be ready for 
this eventuality. Napoleon chose Count de Narbonne for this 

"EN GARDE" 119 

mission for he felt certain this envoy would mislead Alexander. 
Count de Narbonne was not a new man born of the revo- 
lution. A former minister of Louis XVI, former knight of 
honor of Madame Adelaide, he belonged to Royal France much 
more than to Napoleon's empire. Alexander, not to be dis- 
armed, treated this "relic of the past" with all the attention and 
consideration due to him. However, when Narbonne re- 
vealed the extent of Napoleon's peace proposals, he found 
Alexander firm and unyielding. Having rejected Napoleon's 
offer for a personal meeting, the Russian emperor turned to a 
map unfolded on the table and said: 

I am not blinded by unreasonable dreams. I know how 
great a military leader Napoleon is, but on my side I have 
space and time. In all this land hostile to you there is not one 
single spot, no matter how distant it may be, to which I 
would not retreat, which I would not defend rather than 
conclude a dishonorable peace. / will not start the war, but 
I will not disarm so long as a single enemy soldier remains 
in Russia. 

Referring to this meeting, Count de Narbonne commented: 
"The emperor was so firm on his ground, his reasoning was 
so strong and logical, that I was able to entrench myself only 
behind some banal court phraseology." 

That evening Count de Narbonne was invited to dinner by 
Alexander, but when he left the table he was informed that his 
horses were awaiting him. As for the Russian war plans, Napo- 
leon's envoy wrote to Marshal Davout: "We are not lucky 
enough to have them even think of crossing the Niemen." 


When Count de Narbonne reported the results of his mis- 
sion to Napoleon in Dresden, where the French emperor was 
surrounded by all the sovereigns of the Rhine alliance, the 
emperor of Austria, and the king of Prussia, the fiery Corsican 
said: "They want a war I will start it." The troops then 
received an order to accelerate their march to the Niemen, and 
Napoleon himself left Dresden to follow his armies to the Rus- 
sian border. 

Storm clouds gathered over Holy Russia. Six hundred thou- 
sand men, inspired by the genius of the Corsican, marched 
across Prussia to the Niemen. Like the armies of a modern 
Attila they were to bring ruin and disaster to the vast empire 
of Alexander. They were composed of the best fighting material 
that western and central Europe could produce, and they 
were commanded by the Little Corporal, whose place on the 
modern Olympus would have been assured had it not been for 
his lust for power. 

Alexander seemed almost helpless in the face of this invasion. 
Austria and Prussia, his former allies, for whom he had sacri- 
ficed not only the interests of his empire, not only his personal 
ambition, but the precious blood of thousands of sons of Russia, 
had deserted him and joined the ranks of his enemy. Frederick 
William III concluded an alliance with Napoleon on March 7, 
1812, and informed Alexander of it by a tender letter in which 
he said that it had been necessary to sacrifice his heart's in- 
clination upon the altar of necessity. Seven days later Austria 
also became an ally of Napoleon. Both their armies were now 
marching toward Russia. 

Though Alexander had been able to bring Bernadotte and 
Sweden to his side, it did not mean effective help, for Napo- 

"EN GARDE" 121 

Icon's former marshal did not intend to sacrifice the life of a 
single one of his soldiers in a cause the issue of which was 
not yet sure. On the other hand, the aged Kutuzov, after 
defeating the Turks in November, 1811, had finally signed a 
treaty of peace with the Ottoman Empire on May 14, 1812, 
the day before he was relieved of his command in the Balkans 
by Admiral Chichagov. This treaty was ratified on May 25, 
thus freeing a Russian army which could now be used against 
the main enemy. Still it was with barely two hundred thousand 
men that Alexander had to face Napoleon's force. So by 
necessity, he relied mostly on his invisible allies: space and time. 

On June 24, Napoleon's armies began crossing the Niemen. 
That same evening Alexander attended a ball given outside 
Vilno in Zakret, the country home of General Bennigsen. 
Since this residence did not contain a large ballroom, a local 
architect was ordered to erect a covered gallery in the garden. 
On the eve of the ball, Alexander received an anonymous 
message warning him that the gallery was insecure and would 
collapse as soon as the dances started. Alexander dispatched 
General de Sanglain, director of military police, to verify the 
contents of the note. No sooner had de Sanglain reached 
Zakret than the gallery actually collapsed. The architect fled 
and later committed suicide. When Alexander was informed of 
what had happened, he gave immediate orders to clear the 
floor of the gallery; he had no intention of postponing or coun- 
termanding this ball lest people should think that he was afraid. 
"We will dance in the open air," said he, dismissing de Sanglain. 

The ball was a great success. The night was exceptionally 
warm and the melodies of the music mingled with the aroma of 
linden trees in full bloom. Dark masses of trees formed a vast 


colonnade supporting the dome of the star-covered sky. The 
gay assembly in which the gorgeous uniforms of officers con- 
trasted with the dark coats of civilians and the light frocks of 
ladies refused to acknowledge that the country was on the 
eve of war, that soon the brilliant uniforms would be marred 
by gunpowder and blood, that the light frocks would be re- 
placed by the black garments of mourning. Alexander moved 
among the dancers with perfect poise as though unaware that 
his empire was being threatened. His simplicity, his desire to 
be nothing more than one of the guests, his charming smile, 
added to the success of the evening. Just before supper was 
served General Balashov brought the news received from 
Kovno that the French army had started crossing the Niemen. 
Alexander ordered Balashov to keep silence so that the fes- 
tivities might not be disturbed. 

The emperor left the ball at the end of the supper. He 
did not sit down at table, but moved from one table to an- 
other with an appearance of perfect enjoyment. I say "ap- 
pearance" because he played his role marvelously, having 
already been notified that at this very moment while the 
ball was going on at Zakret, a scene much more magnificent 
and solemn was being enacted twenty miles from there. Na- 
poleon crossed the Niemen with six hundred thousand sol- 
diers of whom only thirty thousand were to return to France. 

So wrote the Countess de Choiseul-Gouffier. 

Upon his return to Vilno, Alexander spent the rest of the 
night at his desk. Toward morning an imperial manifesto an- 
nouncing to Count Soltykov, left in charge of the empire in 

"EN GARDE" 123 

St. Petersburg, and through him to the rest of Russia, the be- 
ginning of hostilities by Napoleon without a declaration of 
war, was ready to be dispatched. This historical document 
ended with the following words: "/ 'will not lay down arms so 
long as a single enemy soldier remains in my empire" An 
order to the troops was also prepared. Napoleon had said in 
the order to his armies before crossing the Niemen: "Russia 
is enticed by fate." Alexander's order to his troops ended 
with the words: "God's wrath be on the one who starts." The 
great struggle of the century had begun. 



NAPOLEON'S six hundred thousand men safely crossed the 
Niemen in three days. Like so many huge waves they rolled 
over the plains of Lithuania finding the country deserted, the 
Russian army retreating to the interior. On June 28, Napoleon 
entered Vilno which had been evacuated by the Russians the 
night before. Here he was approached by Alexander's last 
messenger of peace. It was General Aide-de-Camp Balashov 
who brought to the French emperor a personal letter from the 
sovereign of Russia. Alexander wrote to Napoleon saying that 
it was not yet too late to maintain peace if the latter would re- 
trace his steps and recross the Niemen to its western bank. 

Napoleon thought differently. To Balashov he said, "Even 
God could not undo now what has been started." Then as if 
to emphasize his final decision he asked Alexander's envoy 
which was the best route to Moscow and St. Petersburg. Bala- 
shov accepted the challenge and looking straight into the 
Corsican's eyes, answered: "There are many, sire. One can 
take also the one of Poltava." This reference to the defeat of 
Charles XII of Sweden, who a century before had also invaded 



Russia, threw Napoleon into such a rage that he forgot the 
elementary rules of courtesy and dismissed Balashov as if he 
were a mere subaltern officer. When Balashov reported the 
results of his mission, Alexander remarked, "I did not expect 
you would meet with any success, but at least now Europe 
will know that we are not beginning this slaughter." Later he 
added, "The charm is broken; now we shall see what brings 
better results: to be feared or to be loved." 

Days went by and Napoleon marched farther and farther 
into the depths of Russia. The great machine of war which he 
had put into action was handled by inexpert hands. Notwith- 
standing the enormous supplies of provisions which followed 
the troops, already in Lithuania the soldiers remained more than 
once without bread for days on end while the retreating Russian 
armies destroyed everything behind them. In addition, this 
time Napoleon did not have the same sort of army that he had 
had in Italy in 1796. His generals of 1812 as well as himself 
had been spoiled by luxury, and so were most of the subordinate 
officers. They needed comfort and demanded it. When they 
were unable to obtain it from a legitimate source, they plun- 
dered. Soon the enthusiasm which had met Napoleon in Lithu- 
ania and Poland gave way to a bitter disillusionment. The rich 
country became a prey to the vultures into which Napoleon's 
eagles had become transformed. Many a Polish patriot sighed 
heavily at the realization of the mistake he had made in link- 
ing his fate to that of the Corsican. Yet this was long before 
the final defeat. 

As for Alexander, his situation grew more precarious with 
every passing day. His presence with the army became the sub- 
ject of open and bitter criticism. Nominally he was commander 


in chief, but virtually the army had no supreme command. 
People remembered the fatal days of Austerlitz when, through 
him, youngsters like Prince Dolgoruky had upset the wise 
plans of a Kutuzov. So they began to express openly their de- 
sire to see the emperor entrust command of the army to a re- 
sponsible officer. As a first step toward this goal, they urged him 
to abandon military affairs to those actually in charge of opera- 
tions, i.e., to Prince Bagration and to Barclay de Tolly. The 
Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna wrote: 

For God's sake do not decide to assume command yourself. 
. . . There is no time to lose to give the armies a chief in 
whom the men would have confidence. As for you, you can- 
not inspire them with any. 

Reluctantly Alexander left the armies and proceeded to 
Moscow. Count Rostopchin, who had been appointed gov- 
ernor general of that ancient capital of Russia through the 
influence of Alexander's sister, Catherine, prepared a magnif- 
icent reception for him. When Alexander saw the genuine 
enthusiasm of the people of Moscow he felt that his sacrifice 
had not been made in vain. He still represented that symbol 
which in the eyes of the Russian people embodied the greatness 
and magnitude of their country. During his stay in Moscow he 
received news of the conclusion of a peace treaty with England 
in Cerebro on July 18, and two days later that of a treaty of 
alliance signed in Velikie Luki with the representatives of the 
Spanish Cortes. Russia was gradually gaining friends who were 
primarily enemies of Napoleon. 

Upon his return to St. Petersburg the question of appointing 


a commander in chief for the armies was pressing. Alexander 
listened first to the voice of the army and found to his great 
astonishment that the name of the army's favorite was Count 
Pahlen. The specter of March 23 reappeared and plunged Alex- 
ander into consternation. Was it possible that the man who 
had not held an active command for the last twenty years 
could be the real choice of the army? Or was it a reminder and 
a challenge? Then he listened to the voice of the people and 
heard the name of Kutuzov. This choice, though less unpleasant, 
was also unsatisfactory to Alexander because he could not for- 
get the days of Austerlitz when "the old fox of the north/' as 
Napoleon had called Kutuzov, proved to be more of a courtier 
than a military leader. But the voice of the people clamored 
louder and louder until Alexander was practically forced to 
make a decision. After consulting a committee of military and 
government leaders, he appointed Kutuzov commander in chief 
on August 20. At the same time he told his intimate friends 
that in so doing he had complied only with the popular demand. 
"As for myself," he added, "I wash my hands of h." But the 
choice proved to be a wise one. 

The Most Serene Prince Kutuzov was sixty-seven years 
old in 1812. Early a lieutenant of the famous Field Marshal 
Suvorov, he had become aged as much by a number of wounds 
and the exhaustion of numerous campaigns as by his rather 
licentious life. Fat, somnolent, having only one eye, the other 
torn by an enemy bullet, he had difficulty in mounting a horse 
and once in the saddle could not remain in it for very long. 
He usually spent his days on a divan, his one eye half closed 
by a heavy eyelid, inert and panting, changing his position 
only in order to go to bed. However, his intellectual faculties 


remained intact. His mind was sharp and discriminating, and 
he possessed sure tact and a great deal of common sense. He 
replaced the defect of a lack of scientific knowledge, which 
he had never acquired because of his laziness, by the fruits of 
his long experience. His theory of war matched his tempera- 
ment perfectly. He was slow, but tenacious, generally careful, 
perhaps to excess, but fertile in stratagems. During actions and 
engagements he remained impassive, as if having nothing to do 
with the development of the battle. However, he usually fore- 
saw its ultimate results and had given orders which had to be 
executed, even if nobody understood them, but which generally 
proved to be the best. Almost invariably he gave his orders 
orally because he hated the task of writing after ten sig- 
natures he was out of breath. But he knew how to talk to the 
soldiers and his paternal ways were universally liked. 

Such was the new commander in chief. All Russia had placed 
its hope in him and was sure that the veteran of so many wars 
would offer standing battle to the invader. However, when 
Kutuzov reached the army he continued to retreat to the great 
astonishment of those who had backed his candidacy, since from 
him they expected the so long desired action. Meanwhile Napo- 
leon's six hundred thousand men continued their inexorable 
march toward Russia's holy shrine Moscow. 

Alexander now spent dreary days in the capital of Peter 
the Great. Notwithstanding his decision to fight to the end, 
the terrible trial which had befallen his country frightened 
his imagination and troubled his heart. Visions and recollections 
of the past began to haunt his soul although he tried to drive 
them away. More often than ever the disfigured head of Paul 
appeared before his sleepless eyes. His tormented conscience 


whispered in his ears words of reproach, accusing him of being 
the source of the evils that had befallen his Russia. With every 
passing day Alexander became more and more afraid of life, 
of that terrible responsibility that life had placed on his stooping 
shoulders. He had no one to talk to, no one to share with him 
the burden of his conscience. The world seemed dark and fear- 

Dark and mysterious seemed also that splendid St. Petersburg, 
clad in marble and granite, with its high embankments which 
were constantly fighting against the elements to retain the 
furious onflow of the Neva River that threatened the very 
existence of the imperial city. True, the marvelous palaces, 
churches, squares and monuments were of magnificent beauty, 
but they seemed to be nothing but a vision a fantastic scenery 
hiding the real Russia stretched over immense and mournful 
spaces. Alexander had expressed a hope that "space and rime" 
would break down the force of the indomitable Bonaparte, but 
at rimes he had felt that he would like to be absorbed, to be 
lost, in their fugitive mirage. He had once said to Countess de 

At times I have a desire to bang my head against a wall 
and if I could honorably change my position I would do it 
without hesitation, because there is no more difficult pro- 
fession than mine. I have no vocation whatsoever for the 

This thought now recurred with ever-increasing tenacity: 
to abandon the throne, to leave everything and to live the 
rest of his life "somewhere on the Rhine" in peace and calm. 


But could he do it? The struggle that had been started was 
of such a nature that he could not "honorably change his 
position." The only thing left to him was to continue his suf- 
fering in silence and to profit by the teachings of his youth 
to conceal his real feelings. 

Napoleon still advanced and the guerrilla warfare of the 
Russian army, though making the great conqueror and his 
generals feel uneasy, was not of a nature to halt this advance. 
In St. Petersburg a diversion of the enemy toward the capital 
was feared. Its inhabitants feeling insecure began to prepare 
themselves to leave the town at a moment's notice. The govern- 
ment began the evacuation of valuables. Everyone looked upon 
residence in the northern metropolis as temporary. Yet at this 
very time Prince Alexander Nikolayevich Golitsyn began the 
construction of a new palace. Rumors were immediately spread 
in the city that the emperor's personal friend was a traitor and 
therefore feared not the invader. These rumors also reached 
Alexander, but did not move him: he knew his friend too well. 
However, he went to visit the site of Golitsyn's new palace 
and inquired, for curiosity's sake, why he was starting such a 
magnificent edifice in such troubled times. 

Golitsyn, who had been known to Alexander from his early 
youth, when as a page at court he had the reputation of an 
accomplished Lovelace, had now become a mystic. Abandoning 
the frivolous writers of eighteenth-century France, the prince 
at present read only the Bible. He told Alexander that he did 
not fear Napoleon, because he had confidence in divine Provi- 
dence. He assured the emperor that the Scriptures contained 
answers to all problems. Golitsyn then stretched out his hand 
to take from the table a heavy volume of the Bible, but the 


book slipped. In falling to the floor it opened at the page con- 
taining Psalm XCI. Moved by curiosity, Alexander read: 
"... I will say of the Lor4, He is my refuge and fortress: my 
God: in Him will I trust . . . He shall cover thee with His 
feathers, and under His wings shalr thou trust . . ." Golitsyn 
then explained to him that the opening of the book at this 
particular page was not a coincidence but the expression of 
the will of God, and Alexander, much impressed, reread the 
psalm with great eagerness. 

When at one of the next church services he attended, Alex- 
ander again heard this psalm read in old Slavonic, he became 
convinced that it was really the expression of God's will. He 
felt a growing desire to read the Bible which was unknown to 
him, but the library of his palace did not have a single copy of 
the holy book. Alexander found instead the complete works 
of Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Montesquieu, Mably, La Fon- 
taine, even the libertine verses of Parny. The Bible apparently 
was not in demand at the imperial palace. Then Alexander re- 
membered that his wife had seemed to be interested in religion 
so he went to her in quest of the desired book. Indeed, Empress 
Elisabeth Alexeyevna did take an interest in religion and 
possessed a copy of the Bible but it was in French. Thus it was 
in a Catholic vulgate that Emperor Alexander sought an answer 
to his mystic quests. Referring to this time Alexander said 
in later years: 

I simply devoured the Bible, finding that its words poured 
an unknown peace into my heart and quenched the thirst of 
my soul. Our Lord, in His infinite kindness, inspired me in 
order to permit me to understand what I was reading. It is 


to this edification, to this internal light that I am indebted 
for all the moral well-being that I have acquired by reading 
the divine Scriptures. 

It was in the fiery prophecies of Jeremiah, Isaiah and Ezekiel 
that Alexander found astonishing revelations. It seemed to him 
that the Jewish prophets had foreseen the invasion of orthodox 
Russia by a little French corporal. Alexander found what he 
considered exact descriptions of his implacable foe: 

His heart is like a stone, the sight of his grinning teeth is 
terrible, his eyes burn like coals aflame ... He decided 
in his mind: I will climb up to heaven, I will place my throne 
above the stars of the firmament, I will seat myself on the 
top of the highest mountains beyond the highest of clouds, 
I will be equal to the Supreme Being ... I am the king of 
kings, I will lead against thee people of different languages 
which like the advancing waves of the sea will break the 
walls of thy towns. 

Was it not a true picture of what was happening? Alex- 
ander was deeply moved by the thought that almost count- 
less centuries before, extraordinary men had spoken in a flaming 
tongue about the impious conqueror, who, forgetting God 
and sacrificing his immortal soul, dreamed of enslaving all the 
people and of becoming a god himself. Indeed, Napoleon had 
told General Wrede that he was going to be the master of the 
universe. He had reiterated his intentions when, in 1811, he 
said to Abb de Pradt, "In five years I will be the ruler of the 
world." Alexander had no hesitation at present: the Bible 


truly meant Bonaparte, the man who was stamping out every- 
thing that was sacred in order to create new institutions sancti- 
fied by himself. This enemy of truth, this enemy of humanity 
was vain and proud like Satan himself. He was already a demi- 
god, but he aspired to become the Son of God, God Himself. 

Thus Alexander spent his days plunging deeper and deeper 
into a sort of superstitious mysticism. But in reading the Bible 
he found not only an explanation of the terrible events which 
like a nightmare enshrouded Russia but also he persuaded him- 
self of his own weakness and moral inferiority. What was he 
before these formidable forces gathered against Russia? Had 
he the right to be the ruler of this empire, the master of this 
valiant nation? Was he not predestined to expiate the sins of 
past generations? His own sins? No wonder that he had met 
with no success in his previous attempts. Would things change 
now? The old hermit Sevastianov was right when he had pre- 
dicted the disaster of Austerlitz. But had he not also told the 
young emperor that a day would come when he would triumph 
over his enemy? Lost in contradictions, deep in a mystic haze, 
Alexander struggled with himself, while Russia struggled with 

As Napoleon's armies were nearing the heart of Russia 
Moscow Kutuzov suddenly halted the Russian retreat. Upon 
his orders the army began to entrench itself along a vast field 
near the village of Borodino. Redoubts were hastily built, 
cannons were moved into position. The men who had begun to 
grumble not understanding the reasons for such a lengthy 
retreat were whipped into action by the spirit of battle. Every- 
one on the Russian side was confident of victory and satisfied 
that the long desired encounter was now near at hand. 


Napoleon was satisfied too. He needed a spectacular victory 
badly as news from France was far from reassuring. And here 
was his opportunity. The "old fox from the north" had finally 
decided to fight in order to defend Moscow from invasion. The 
Corsican was certain of victory. Proudly he recalled the occu- 
pation of Vienna, of Berlin. He pictured to himself already 
a delegation of Moscovites presenting to him the keys of the 
city as the municipalities of other European capitals had done 
before. That, he was sure, would bring the French to their 
senses, stop their grumbling at excessive taxation and permit 
him once more to saddle them firmly. 

By the evening of September 6 the two enemies had occupied 
their positions across the broad expanse of the field. All was 
quiet on the Russian side. On the French side, Napoleon made 
a last tour of inspection. The Russians could hear the distant 
shouting: "Vive fEmpereur. 1 " as the Little Corporal rode along 
the lines. They could see the flicker of numerous torches which, 
added to the shifting flames of bonfires, transformed the calm 
autumn night into a gruesome picture of some ghastly witch 
meeting. Soon, however, all was quiet on the French side also. 
The two armies were now awaiting the break of dawn. 

With the first glimmer of light in the east, Napoleon's troops 
launched their attack, thus starting one of the greatest battles 
of all times. Furious fighting continued for fifteen hours with 
changeable fortune. When night fell, the Russians still held 
most of their positions, although eighty thousand men from 
both sides were left on the field. 

That evening Kutuzov held a council of war. He had pre- 
viously given an order to resume fighting in the morning, but 


when the reports of the Russian losses arrived, he was so appalled 
that he decided to continue the retreat and to abandon Mos- 
cow to the enemy. Wearily his generals left the peasant hut 
where the council had been held to transmit the order to the 
troops. That very night the Russian army left its blood- 
drenched redoubts and withdrew beyond Moscow, setting a 
trap for the "impious conqueror" who had dared to threaten 
the heart of Russia. 

Alexander received the news of the great battle on Septem- 
ber 1 1. Kutuzov's report was short and vague. It seemed as if 
he had been tired when writing it. To any military man it was 
obvious that it was a victory for Napoleon since the Russian 
army continued its retreat. However, Alexander did not want 
to tell Europe at large of the defeat suffered by his army. He 
wrote a personal letter to Bernadotte in which he described the 
battle of Borodino as a brilliant victory for Russia, adding that 
Kutuzov did not see fit to profit by the fruit of his victory and 
continued his retreat. A similar message was read to the people 
of St. Petersburg. On the other hand, Napoleon did not fail 
to announce his great victory, but he called it the battle of the 
Moskova, whilst the Russian report named it the battle of 
Borodino. This confused the contemporaries for a time, but very 
soon they learned the truth. On September 14, Napoleon's 
troops entered Moscow. When General Michaud arrived with 
the news of the occupation of the ancient capital of Russia by 
the enemy, Alexander said: 

This will not decide the struggle. When I shall have used 
all the means in my power, I shall let my beard grow and live 


like the poorest peasant eating potatoes, but I will not sign the 
dishonor of my country and of my dear subjects, whose 
sacrifices I do appreciate. 

The five weeks of Napoleon's stay in Moscow were for 
Alexander the worst trial he had suffered since the terrible night 
on March 23, 1801. He felt that all his solemn resolutions "to 
retreat to Kazan/' "to fight on the shores of the Volga," to 
"let my beard grow and to lead the life of the poorest peasant" 
could not undo the wrong done, could not heal the mortal 
wound which the country had received. 

On the twenty-seventh of September when Alexander went 
to assist at a Te Deum in the cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan, 
on the occasion of the anniversary of his coronation, the crowd 
which had gathered in the cathedral square maintained a hostile 
silence. He recalled a similar attitude on the part of his people 
after the Tilsit meeting, but this time he felt that the animosity 
toward him was greater. Countess Edling nee Princess Sturdza, 
a lady in waiting to Empress Elisabeth Alexeyevna, wrote in 
her memoirs: 

Never shall I forget those minutes as we were ascending the 
steps of the cathedral. One could have heard a pin drop and 
I am sure that a single spark would have put this crowd 
aflame. I glanced at the emperor; I understood what he was 
undergoing and my knees trembled. 

In the meantime terrible news arrived from Moscow. The 
ancient city was burning and entire quarters were nothing but 
smoking ruins. The French plundered undisturbed. The holy 


shrines of Russia were transformed into stables. The people 
who had not fled were terrorized. But this debauch of the 
Grand Army was also a sign of its own untimely end. As the 
supply trains were often captured by Russians on their long 
way from the Prussian frontier, Napoleon's army in Moscow 
began to suffer from hunger. The French emperor then decided 
to break through the Russian lines south of Moscow in order 
to reach the provinces of Little Russia, rich in foodstuffs. But 
his army under Murat was beaten at Tarutino on October 1 8, 
and Napoleon decided to evacuate Moscow. He had offered 
peace to Alexander more than once. He had sent a personal 
letter to his "brother and friend" through a Russian noble- 
man, Yakovlev, the father of Alexander Herzen. He had ap- 
pealed to Kutuzov through Count Lauriston who was permit- 
ted to cross the lines. He did not understand that Alexander 
could no longer dream of peace even if he had wanted such an 
issue himself: Russia was determined to punish the intruder. 
The people now took the matter into their own hands and 
fought a people's war. Men and women alike armed them- 
selves with what they could find and harassed the French 
troops along the long line of communication. Many a French- 
man who had reached his homeland after the ordeal of the 
Great Retreat continued to shudder at the recollection of 
Russian peasant women who were as merciless and revengeful 
as the ancient furies. This people's war strengthened Alex- 
ander in his decision not to conclude peace "while a single 
enemy soldier remains on Russian soil." But even more than 
the manifestation of popular sentiment, the justification for 
his conduct as revealed to him in the Bible gave him strength 
to oppose all proposals of peace, notwithstanding the fact 


that these were backed by such persons as his brother, the 
Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich, his chancellor, Count 
Rumiantsov, and last but not least his own beloved sister, the 
Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna. Count Joseph de Maistre 
wrote: "The emperor is firm and will not even hear anything 
about peace." 

When Alexander received the news of Moscow's evacuation 
by Napoleon, he realized that the danger was over. A week 
later the Corsican himself suffered an important defeat at Maly- 
Yaroslavets. The Grand Army was still imposing, but it was 
doomed. Alexander's allies space and time at present re- 
ceived support from the elements: early frosts mowed down 
Napoleon's soldiers like grass. A thick white frosty mist en- 
veloped the retreating columns. Frenchmen, Poles, Italians, 
Germans were lost from the high road and, if they escaped the 
torturing clutches of the frost, they perished at the hands of the 
Russian people in arms. They disappeared, they melted these 
wonderful soldiers. Napoleon's army seemed to be engulfed 
by the endless plains of Russia. His proud declaration at the 
beginning of the campaign that "Russia was enticed by fate" 
seemed now more applicable to himself. 

Alexander watched this phenomenon with a feeling close to 
religious awe. The idea that miraculous forces were saving 
Russia embedded itself strongly in his mind. He felt that the 
Almighty was not forcing him yet to expiate the blood of his 
father, but he took it as a timely warning. The ancient pro- 
phets were right. From now on he was to devote himself to 
the triumph of everything that was sacred: truth, justice, and 
the fear of God. The words of Isaiah resounded in his ears 
like a solemn and mysterious pledge: 


The Almighty Jehovah punishes impious kings. He makes 
the princes fall, reduces them to dust and makes the mighty 
of the earth seem futile. . . . He breathed on them they 
dried out and a wind carried them away like straw. . . . 
The people and the kingdoms which will not hear Him will 
perish and disappear forever. 



ON CHRISTMAS DAY, 1812, Alexander issued an imperial mani- 
festo in "which he announced that the patriotic war was ended 
since "not one enemy soldier remained on Russian soil." But 
the emperor was not content to let the struggle rest there. Con- 
vinced of his own divine mission to rid Europe of Napoleon, 
he was determined to fight the Corsican until the latter's down- 
fall. Consequently, on New Year's day, 1813, Alexander in- 
augurated the campaign for the liberation of Europe by crossing 
the Niemen River at the head of his troops. 

Kutuzov, who was still in command of the Russian army, 
strongly opposed the continuation of the struggle, insisting 
that Russia's interests had been protected when Napoleon and 
his formidable army were driven out of the country, and that 
Europe should find by herself the solution of her difficulties. 
Although Alexander had honored the aged soldier by confer- 
ring upon him the Grand Cross of the Order of St. George the 
highest Russian military decoration and had created him 
Field Marshal of the Russian army and given him, after Napo- 
leon's manner, the title of Prince of Smolensk, he announced 



to Sir Robert Wilson, the English general attached to his head- 

I know that the field marshal did not accomplish any- 
thing that was necessary. All he did against the enemy was 
what he could not possibly avoid doing, being driven to it 
by the force of circumstances. He won victories in spite of 
himself. He played more than one of his tricks on us. Never- 
theless, the nobility upholds him because it wants to sym- 
bolize in him the national glory of the last campaign. I will 
not leave the army anymore, because I do not want to aban- 
don it to the dangers of such a command. 

And to Count Soltykov he wrote: "Thanks be to God, 
everything goes well with us, but I have some difficulty finding 
a way to get rid of the field marshal. However, this will have 
to be done." 

The opposition to Alexander's continuation of the struggle 
was removed, however, by the untimely death of Kutuzov. 
In a final effort to save Russian armies from defeat, he had 
opposed Alexander's plan to cross the Elbe River, saying: 
'/Nothing is easier at present than to go beyond the Elbe. But 
how shall we return? With a bloody nose." Kutuzov knew 
what he was talking about. The main portion of the Russian 
army numbered only eighteen thousand men, and Napoleon 
was gathering fresh forces. But Alexander ignored the wise 
advice of his field marshal. On April 7, he gave orders to his 
troops to advance to the Oder. At Steinau he was presented 
with a crown of laurels by the inhabitants who acclaimed him 
the victor of Napoleon. Alexander did not keep this crown, 
however. Notwithstanding his severe criticism of the com- 


mander in chief, he knew that at the time it was more fitting for 
Kutuzov to receive such homage. So he sent the crown to 
his field marshal with a note: "The laurels belong to you." 
But this crown was to become a funeral wreath. On April 28, 
Field Marshal the Most Serene Prince Michael Illarionovich 
Kutuzov of Smolensk died. His death gave Alexander the op- 
portunity to follow his own policy unhampered by opposition, 
a policy which was to carry him to the heights of glory though 
at the cost of many lives and to the detriment of Russia's 
real interests. 

When Alexander began his European campaign, Austria 
and Prussia were still allied to Napoleon. Prussia was the first 
to break away from France and to join Alexander. On Feb- 
ruary 28, 1813, she signed a treaty of alliance with Russia and, 
on March 16, declared war on France. This alliance brought 
England once more into the anti-French coalition. Friendly 
relations between Berlin and London were re-established and 
even before a diplomatic agreement was signed enormous 
quantities of war materials were shipped to the mouth of the 
Elbe River. At the end of April the Marquis of Londonderry 
paid a visit to the Allies in Dresden and promptly signed a 
treaty which assured Russia and Prussia of an advance payment 
of two million pounds sterling in addition to a subsidy of half 
a million pounds for the maintenance of the Russian fleet in 
fighting condition. In return for this financial aid, Russia and 
Prussia promised to maintain in the field an army of from one 
hundred thousand to two hundred thousand men each. "The 
sword lifted against Napoleon thus received from the English 
smithy the tempering and sharpening which it had previously 


Meanwhile Napoleon, having gathered a new army, reached 
Weimar on April 26, leading his troops in person. In starting 
this new campaign he had announced to his soldiers: "I will 
conduct this campaign not as the emperor but as General 
Bonaparte." Indeed, as General Bonaparte, Napoleon had been 
invincible. The first battle of the new campaign was fought 
at Liitzen. With only seventy-two thousand men at their dis- 
posal, Alexander and the Prussian king attacked Napoleon's 
army, one hundred twenty-five thousand men strong, and met 
with defeat. They retreated then to the fortified position at 
Bautzen, but were promptly overtaken by the Corsican and 
defeated again. The king of Prussia lost courage and kept on 
repeating: "I see myself in Memel again." Then Napoleon made 
a tactical blunder by offering peace to his enemies. Austria 
lost confidence in him and, although still his ally in name, was 
now willing to listen to Alexander's proposals. Metternich 
declared himself ready to negotiate. 

On June 27, Russia and Prussia signed a secret convention 
with Austria at Reichenbach. Notwithstanding this agreement, 
Austria continued to negotiate with Napoleon. Metternich 
went to see the French emperor in Dresden, but was hand- 
somely rebuked by him. Napoleon asked the man who had 
arranged his marriage with Maria-Louisa: "How much did they 
pay you for betraying me?" And to Caulaincourt, whom he had 
entrusted with the pourparlers for peace with the Allies in 
Prague, he wrote: 

Russia has every right to favorable terms of peace. She 
has bought them with the heavy price of two campaigns full 
of hardships, including the devastation of part of her ter- 


ritory and the loss of a capital. Austria, on the contrary, 
does not deserve anything. Nothing would be more pain- 
ful to me than to see Austria obtain the advantages and the 
glory of having restored peace in Europe in reward for her 

However, Austria was to reap a rich harvest this time, a 
harvest which she had not sown. Feeling that she could gain 
more with Alexander than with Napoleon, and having lost 
much confidence in Napoleon's military genius, she cast her 
lot with Russia and Prussia. In the night of August 10, wood- 
piles were set aflame on the heights surrounding Prague, and 
their sinister glow in the darkness of a clouded night marked 
the end of the armistice with France, which had been con- 
cluded after the battle of Bautzen, the resumption of hostilities 
against Napoleon, and the entrance of Austria into the coalition. 

The three allied armies now numbered collectively 492,000 
men and 1,383 pieces of artillery, while Napoleon's army com- 
prised 440,000 men and 1,200 cannons. But the French army 
was under a single command whereas the Allies could not de- 
cide upon the nomination of a commander in chief. The Russian 
and Prussian armies were both nominally under the command 
of the Russian general, Barclay de Tolly; the Austrian troops, 
on the other hand, were entrusted to the leadership of Prince 
Schwarzenberg. And the presence at the allied headquarters 
of Emperor Alexander, Emperor Francis, King Frederick Wil- 
liam, and the French generals, Moreau and Jomini, who had 
deserted Napoleon, complicated the conduct of operations. 

Napoleon was aware of this state of affairs and counted on 
the continued lack of unity and centralization in the enemy 


camp when elaborating his military plans. The practical and 
well-organized plans of the Corsican, based upon the assump- 
tion that the enemy would not be able to check him with similar 
practical and well-organized plans, failed completely, however, 
because the French emperor could not count upon the un- 
expected: the sudden development of Alexander into a mili- 
tary leader. 

In the midst of the confusion of ideas and actions in the allied 
camp, Alexander moved about calmly. Thoroughly convinced 
of the righteousness of his cause, he discovered in himself un- 
suspected sources of energy and resourcefulness. He naturally 
attributed this new-found strength to the intervention of divine 
forces. This mystic belief in his own mission, together with 
the petty jealousies and ambitions of his Allies, were decisive 
in Alexander's assumption of the leadership at the critical 

The first battle that the three Allies gave Napoleon turned 
into a disaster. Alexander had recommended a march with all 
the combined forces on Leipzig, but Schwarzenberg, after 
learning that Dresden was defended only by the small corps 
gf Saint-Cyr, led the Austrians to the capital of Saxony in 
quest of an easy victory. Alexander submitted to Schwarzen- 
berg's plan, because he did not desire to impose his ideas in the 
face of Austria's opposition right at the beginning of the new 
campaign when Austria was far from having been completely 
won to the allied cause. When the troops arrived before Dres- 
den, Schwarzenberg lost twenty-four hours in deliberations, 
which exasperated General Moreau to such an extent that he 
threw his hat on the ground in disgust and exclaimed: "Damn 
it, sir, I am no longer surprised that during the last seventeen 


years you have always been beaten!" Alexander pacified the 
excited Frenchman, but could not bring Schwarzenberg to 
listen to reason. When the battle was finally started it was too 

A cold penetrating rain, driven by a sharp wind, fell on the 
combatants. Alexander, on horseback, watched from the top 
of a small hill where he could see Napoleon's troops coming 
to the rescue of Saint-Cyr. Here an incident occurred which 
Alexander interpreted as a miracle, confirming him in the 
belief of his mystic mission. Toward three o'clock in the after- 
noon Alexander noticed that his horse was continually beating 
the ground where its shoe struck a stone. He then moved his 
horse a few feet aside. General Moreau, also on horseback, 
followed the emperor. But no sooner had he occupied the 
place where a few seconds before Alexander had stood than 
an enemy cannon ball wounded him mortally. He died two 
weeks later. 

Toward evening the Allies were beaten and had to abandon 
the hope of capturing Dresden. During the retreat into Bohemia, 
the Allies won a spectacular victory in annihilating the corps 
of General Vandamme and taking him prisoner. It was the 
battle of Kulm. It was won when at the decisive moment Alex- 
ander took command of the troops and surrounded the French 
by means of a clever maneuver. This victory was followed by 
two others, when on August 2 3, the northern army of the Allies 
defeated Oudinot, and on August 26 the Prussian general 
Bliicher crushed MacDonald. This succession of victories had 
an important moral effect upon the troops as well as on con- 
stantly wavering Austria. After the defeat at Dresden, Metter- 
nich had almost decided to withdraw Austria from the coalition 


and to throw himself and his country once more upon the 
mercy of the Corsican. But now that the Allies were gaining 
victories, he was willing to give them another chance. 

Notwithstanding the defeats suffered by his lieutenants, 
Napoleon was determined to continue the struggle. The Allies, 
encouraged by their recent victories, were equally determined 
to face Napoleon in person in order to inflict upon him the 
final blow. They adopted Alexander's original plan and 
marched on to Leipzig. Here on the morning of October 16 
started the Battle of Nations which lasted three days. It cost 
nearly one hundred thousand lives, freed Germany, and hurled 
Napoleon across the Rhine back into France to fight, this 
time for the preservation not of his empire but of his very 

At the beginning of the battle the command of the Allies 
still lacked unity. Schwarzenberg refused to listen to Alex- 
ander and conducted a separate engagement which ended in 
defeat when General Merf eldt was taken a prisoner. Frederick 
William was not able to take command of the Prussian troops 
because he waited to be informed by Alexander which was the 
proper uniform for him to wear for this occasion. When pressed 
by his aides to wait no longer, he replied: "After all I cannot 
appear before my troops in underwear." It devolved, therefore, 
upon Alexander to assume responsibility for the fight. In doing 
so he proved to be an able commander. He saved the Allies 
from ignominious defeat at the end of the first day of battle 
when at the decisive moment he put into line the one hundred 
twelve pieces of Russian artillery, which until that time he 
had kept in reserve. On October 17, Napoleon offered peace, 
but it was refused. And the next day, after fierce fighting, 


Leipzig was captured. This time Alexander's two Allies had 
submitted themselves to his orders, having come to the reali- 
zation, at last, not only of the importance of a single command, 
but also that the Russian emperor was the only one capable of 
assuming that command. 

While the battle was still raging, Alexander entered Leipzig, 
a real Agamemnon of a new Iliad. The great deed of his life 
seemed to have been achieved: he had shown the world that 
he could stand his ground in the face even of such an opponent 
as Napoleon. The battle of Leipzig freed Germany and Europe 
from oppression by the modern Attila. But the oppressor took 
refuge in his haunt, and it was there that Alexander was going 
now. The second part of his enterprise the campaign of 
France was about to begin. Its goal was Paris. 

On the morning of March 31, 1814, Paris awoke with a 
feeling of perplexity: the sun was too glorious, the city too 
quiet. The roar of artillery which had kept the Parisians awake 
at night was no more. A heavy silence hung over the brilliant 
capital of France. Rumors were born and spread every minute. 
They were contradictory. The Royalists announced jubilantly 
that the capitulation had been signed, that a deputation of the 
municipality had visited Emperor Alexander who had promised 
to take Paris under his protection. The Bonapartists shouted 
that it was too soon to herald the return of the monarchy, be- 
cause the Duke of Vicence was in the city and Napoleon was 
to make his entrance any minute. Listening to all this the man 
in the street expressed his fear that the Russians might burn 
Paris as a year and a half before the French had burned Moscow. 

Toward nine o'clock in the morning men wearing white 
cockades and \vhite scarfs appeared on the Place de la Con- 


corde shouting: "Long live the Bourbons! " At first they were 
few in number and looked rather frightened, but gradually they 
filled the large square and lined the whole length of the Champs 
Elysees. By ten o'clock no one doubted any more that the 
Allies were soon to enter the town. Toward eleven o'clock 
the red coats of the Cossacks of the Guard, riding fifteen in a 
row, appeared at the Pantin Gate. They were followed by the 
Cuirassier and Hussar regiments of the Prussian Guard and by 
the Lancers and Hussars of Alexander's bodyguard. Immedi- 
ately after his own Hussars, Alexander rode on a light gray 
horse clad in a general's uniform with plumed hat. Prince 
Schwarzenberg, representing the emperor of Austria, was at 
his right, Frederick William was on his left. They were ac- 
companied by a suite of a thousand officers of the allied general 
staffs. Then came the infantry regiments, then the Russian 
Horse Guards followed by forty-seven squadrons of Rus- 
sian Cuirassiers. These were the best troops the Allies possessed 
and the impression they made on the French people was tre- 

At first the Allies rode through almost deserted streets. Only 
after they had passed the Saint-Denis Gate did they find the 
streets lined with people shouting: "Long live Emperor Alex- 
ander! Long live the Allies! " As soon as Alexander heard these 
cries he said in a loud clear voice: "I have come to you not as 
an enemy, but as a friend. I bring you peace." Paris responded 
with wild applause. Gradually, as the Allies were nearing the 
center of the city, the ovations became more and moj 
Royalists now mingled openly with the commor 
cockades were everywhere; white banner&raffilv manu- 
factured from bed sheets and tablecloths, 


dows. Women were waving white handkerchiefs, calling to 
each other: "They do not look bad at all!" "How handsome 
Emperor Alexander is!" "How graceful his manners are!" 
"Let him remain in Paris or let them give us a sovereign who 
would be like him/' 

Alexander stopped near the Elys6es Palace and reviewed the 
troops. The crowd around him was so dense that Prince Eugene 
of Wiirttemberg who stood nearby feared lest the ladies of 
Paris would leave him completely naked, so ardently they 
attacked his coat, his boots, his spurs, even the tail of his horse, 
in order to see better. When the review was over Alexander 
proceeded to Talleyrand's residence. The clever Prince of 
Benevent had arranged for Alexander's stay at his house by 
informing the Russian emperor that the Elysees and Tuileries 
palaces had been mined and were therefore unsafe, and by 
offering his own "humble" abode instead. Having Alexander 
as his guest, it was easier for the former Bishop of Autun to 
carry out his plans for a restoration, since he had espoused the 
cause of the Bourbons. The clever diplomat knew that he would 
have to present convincing arguments to the Russian emperor 
who was not at all certain that the restoration of a legitimate 
monarchy would be the best solution for France's political 
and dynastic crisis. As a matter of fact, Alexander cherished 
an idea of seeing France a democratic republic. He had spoken 
of it to Vitrolles, a Royalist agent who had come to see him 
in the allied camp at Chatillon. He was still toying with this 
idea when he took up residence in Talleyrand's palace. But 
his host's disarming manner in which he presented false re- 
ports about the popularity of the Bourbons with the French 
nation finally convinced Alexander and he gave his support 


in favor of the aged Louis XVIII. The unscrupulous Talley- 
rand won a major diplomatic victory. 

Alexander's stay in Paris was extremely gratifying to him. 
He had come as a liberator, not as a conqueror. When someone 
suggested that he should insist upon changing the name of the 
Austerlitz bridge, he replied: "It will be sufficient for future 
generations to know that Emperor Alexander crossed the 
Austerlitz bridge with his army." Europe greeted him now as 
the leader of a glorious campaign, as the victor of the invincible. 
Everyone flattered him, called him a new Agamemnon. But 
the greater the flattery, the more skeptical he was about it. He 
remembered his triumphant entrance into Dresden a year be- 
fore. He remembered the jubilations of the Saxons who greeted 
him as their savior. Only a few weeks later these same Saxons 
greeted Napoleon with similar jubilations when to the roar of 
guns and the ringing of church bells the Corsican made his en- 
trance into the city. 

Liitzen, Bautzen, Dresden, then Kulm, then Leipzig. What 
a strange calm had dominated him in this Battle of Nations, 
when everything seemed to be lost, when the armies were on 
the verge of beating a retreat. Had it not been for his initiative, 
the Allies would have met with certain defeat. For the first time 
people saw in him a great captain and obeyed him without 
murmur. He himself felt, however, that he was being led by a 
mysterious force. Was it not a new manifestation of divine 
Providence? After Leipzig he was the master of Europe, but 
the very nature of the victory made him feel the vanity, the 
futility of glory. He had not neglected to take the Bible with 
him. Lying on his hard leather mattress, a leather pillow under 
his head, he read every night some passage from this ex- 


traordinary and enlightening book. Alexander was accused of 
ambition, of lust for power and glory, when he started the 
campaign of Europe. His critics claimed that he should have 
been satisfied with the expulsion of Napoleon from Russia. 
Some of them even advanced the thought that Alexander was 
jealous of Kutuzov's laurels and wanted to reap glory for him- 
self. These critics could not understand the true motives of 
the Russian emperor. Alexander had insisted upon this campaign 
because he remembered well what he had learned at Tilsit 
when, for a moment, Napoleon had revealed his true self: it 
was Bonaparte's conviction that for him to reign meant to 
fight, and to fight meant to conquer; he could not possibly 
exist as a peaceful ruler. To this Emperor Alexander opposed 
his own idea: "to return to every nation the possibility of en- 
joying its rights and its institutions," to place them all, including 
his own Russia, under the obligations of a general alliance, in 
order that they might protect themselves against new con- 
querors. He had written to La Harpe: 

These are the foundations on which, with the help of 
God, we hope to establish the new system. Divine Provi- 
dence has put us on the road which leads directly to our goal. 
We have already attained a part of it. The other part is still 
surrounded with difficulties. It is imperative that we should 
overcome them. 

And he had been confident of the outcome when on New 
Year's day, 1814, he had seen his Cossacks cross the Rhine. 
They were to overcome the remaining difficulties, but not to 
conquer. Indeed, the new campaign was not one of conquest. 


It seemed as if Alexander was determined to defeat the enemy 
not with the force of his armies but with the spread of his charm. 
His orders to the army announced repeatedly that his troops 
should be generous with the enemy. And his solicitude was 
extended not only to the peaceful inhabitants of beautiful 
France but to the enemy soldiers as well. Lord Castlereagh, 
representing the British government at allied headquarters, 
reported this "strange" behavior of the Russian emperor: 

At present the greatest danger for us is to be found in the 
chivalrous attitude of Emperor Alexander. In so far as Paris 
is concerned, his personal opinions are diametrically opposed 
to the considerations of military strategy and political ex- 
pediency. It seems that Emperor Alexander is only looking 
for the opportunity of entering Paris at the head of his valiant 
army in order to display the greatness of his soul in retaliation 
for the destruction of his capital. 

Castlereagh had no time to read the Bible and, consequently, 
could not understand Alexander's motives. 

On April 6, Napoleon signed at Fontainebleau a complete 
abdication for himself and for his heirs. The Allies then sent 
him into exile on the island of Elba. The way for the resto- 
ration of legitimate monarchy in France was now clear. 

These important events occurred during Easter week. On 
Easter Sunday Paris beheld an extraordinary spectacle. At the 
head of his troops, Alexander proceeded to the exact spot where 
the weak but kind Louis XVI lost his head on the guillotine. 
There a temporary altar had been erected. All the Russian 
clergy that could be found in the French capital were summoned 


by the emperor to celebrate a requiem service for the unfor- 
tunate king of France. Enormous crowds of people gathered 
for the occasion, people of all walks of life from the humble 
workingmen and laborers to Napoleon's marshals and Royalist 
leaders. It was a truly impressive moment when, in the midst 
of Paris, melodious Russian chanting sent up to God the prayers 
of a schismatic nation for the repose of the soul of a Catholic 

Notwithstanding this touching tribute to a member of the 
Bourbon dynasty, Alexander accepted the restoration reluc- 
tantly. "The Bourbons," he said, "who have not reformed and 
will never reform, preserve all the superstitions of the ancien 
regime" Alexander could have added, from personal experi- 
ence, that their haughtiness, incompatible with the times, 
certainly could not contribute to the consolidation of the new 
regime. Indeed, Louis XVIII treated even the Russian emperor 
as an inferior. Upon leaving England, he had declared that he 
owed his throne, after God, only to the prince regent. He ig- 
nored the fact that had it not been for Alexander's troops, he 
would still be a pensioner of the British crown. At Compiegne, 
he first received Alexander's ambassador and, later, Alexander 
himself as if they were some poor relatives humbly requesting 
favors. Afterward, at a dinner in the Tuileries Palace, to which 
Emperor Alexander and the king of Prussia were invited, he 
preceded everyone else into the dining room, and when a court 
valet had the temerity to serve the Russian emperor before him, 
the former Count of Provence banged the table with his fist 
and shouted: "To me first, to me first!" Later, recalling this 
Bourbon "hospitality," Alexander remarked ironically: "We 
northern barbarians are more polite with our guests." Inexcus- 


able as it is, this attitude toward Emperor Alexander on the 
pan of the king of France can be explained, perhaps, by the re- 
sentment that Louis XVIII felt against the emperor of Russia 
for having forced him to accept a constitution. Alexander for- 
bade his entrance into Paris unless he took the oath to a con- 
stitution elaborated by the French Senate, or made a definite 
declaration to that effect. Grudgingly, Louis XVIII chose the 
second alternative and made his entrance into the capital of 
France on May 3, 1814. 

Through all these events, preoccupied as he was with the 
liberation of Europe from the "infernal" domination of the 
Corsican, Alexander forgot his own people. He had insisted 
that the French be granted a constitution by their legitimate 
king, yet he forgot to care for his own peasants, who in soldiers' 
uniforms had not only mightily contributed to the achievement 
of his aim, but had won for him glory never before attained by 
a human being. The Agamemnon of the Iliad was but a faint 
and feeble predecessor of this new Agamemnon. If, however, 
Alexander seemed to have forgotten his own people, they 
did not forget their sovereign. In Bruchsal, Baden, where he 
had joined Empress Elisabeth Alexeyevna who was sojourning 
with her mother, Alexander received a deputation of repre- 
sentatives of the Holy Synod, of the Council of State, and 
of the Senate the ecclesiastical, legislative, and judiciary 
bodies of the empire who begged him humbly to accept 
from his loving subjects the tide of Alexander the Blessed. 


WITH Napoleon seemingly safely exiled on the island of Elba, 
the Allies called a Congress at Vienna to divide the spoils of 
war and to lay the foundations of a new Europe on the ruins of 
Napoleon's empire. Alexander arrived in the Austrian capital 
on September 25, 1814, together with the king of Prussia, and 
took up his residence at the imperial palace the Hof burg. He 
was accompanied by a large suite. Never before had the Hof- 
burg seen such a gathering of royalty as in this autumn of 1814. 
Besides Emperor Alexander and Empress Elisabeth Alexe- 
yevna there were Alexander's two sisters, Anna Pavlovna and 
Catherine Pavlovna. The latter, having failed to find a suit- 
able husband at the English court, was now displaying her 
"Slavic charm" in Vienna. She succeeded in capturing the heart 
of the crown prince of Wiirttemberg and later became queen 
of that second-rate German state. Grand Duke Constantine 
also made an appearance at the Congress but, bored by the pro- 
ceedings, he soon returned to Warsaw to seek the company of 
Julia Grudzinska, the future Princess Lowicz, his morganatic 
wife. The king of Prussia was accompanied by his brother 



Prince William and by Prince August. Then there was the 
king of Denmark with his son-in-law the prince of Holstein- 
Beck; the king of Bavaria and his queen the sister of Empress 
Elisabeth Alexeyevna together with the two royal princes; 
the king and crown prince of Wiirttemberg; the former vice- 
roy of Italy Prince Eugene de Beauharnais and almost a 
hundred petty German princes. 
A contemporary wrote: 

It is difficult to name them all, and more difficult still to 
state their pretensions. But their position during the Con- 
gress was not an enviable one: no one wanted to listen to 
them, no one wanted to read and even less to answer their 
numerous petitions. 

All these princes, who would have done much better to have 
stayed at home but who were attracted like butterflies by the 
brilliancy of the Congress, played in Vienna merely the part of 

Indeed they seemed to be courtiers especially in the pres- 
ence of the Russian emperor, who, casting aside the rules of 
etiquette, paid more attention to a Swiss landsman or to a 
pretty Viennese, than to these German princes. . . . 

Emperor Francis of Austria remained outside this turmoil 
as far as the affairs of state were concerned. He had an im- 
plicit faith in Metternich's ability. He was very busy enter- 
taining and, even more than that, he was preoccupied with 
finding the necessary funds for these entertainments. After 


all, it was a heavy burden upon the Austrian treasury, which 
was empty, when the daily expenditures at the Hofburg for 
food alone ran up to fifty thousand florins. New taxes were im- 
posed upon the people of Austria to permit their emperor to 
play the role of a perfect host. 

The luxury which was displayed during the Congress was not 
limited to the Hofburg. A banquet offered by Alexander at 
the palace of Count Razumovsky, the Russian ambassador to 
Austria and one of the plenipotentiaries at the Congress, to 
three hundred sixty staff officers of the allied armies had cost 
two hundred thousand florins. Then on November 24, the day 
of Saint Catherine, a big ball given by Alexander in honor of 
his sister was followed by a supper, the menu of which in- 
cluded: sterlets (a sort of small sturgeon) from the Volga, 
oysters from Ostend, truffles from Perigord, oranges from 
Palermo, pineapples from the imperial hothouses in Moscow, 
strawberries from the royal gardens of England, and grapes 
from Burgundy and Champagne. In addition to this, every 
guest received a plate full of cherries which had come from 
the imperial gardens in St. Petersburg at a cost of half a dollar 
for each and every cherry. 

Notwithstanding the witty remark of the aged Prince de 
Ligne that "the Congress dances, but does not advance" all 
these feasts, banquets, balls did not obscure Alexander's vision 
of the purpose and aim of the Congress. He fought his way 
through the innumerable obstacles strewn in his path by the 
leading statesmen at the Congress Metternich, Castlereagh, 
and Talleyrand. At first France was excluded from the Con- 
gress, but soon, through the intercession of Metternich and 
Castlereagh, Talleyrand, who had arrived in Vienna as Min- 


ister of Foreign Affairs of Louis XVIII, was granted admission 
to the deliberations. The French minister promptly became 
the leader of this trio in its opposition to the Russian emperor. 
This man, who had betrayed every master he had ever served, 
now posed as the defender of the interests of Europe. 

What an extraordinary sight it must have been when his 
unprepossessing figure, clad in an old-fashioned coat of the 
time of the Directory, stooping, heavily advancing on 
crooked legs, appeared at some brilliant court gathering. An 
enormous mouth filled with rotten teeth above a high collar, 
small deep-set gray eyes without any expression in them, a 
face striking in its insignificance, cold and calm, incapable 
of blushing or revealing any emotions ... a real Mephi- 

When Alexander came to Vienna he had a very definite plan 
as to what Russia was to receive as a reward for her actions in 
safeguarding and liberating Europe. He wanted Poland, and 
in return for the Polish lands then belonging to Austria and 
Prussia, he planned to compensate the former by territorial 
acquisitions in Italy, and to compensate the latter by the an- 
nexation of the kingdom of Saxony. The Italian plan for Austria 
did not meet with any objection, because Talleyrand and 
Castlereagh had made the interests of Austria their own in 
order to counterbalance the might of Russia, but the questions 
of Poland and of Saxony met with so much opposition that 
Alexander had to use all his ingenuity to reach at least a com- 
promise. Far gone seemed the days when he was acclaimed by 
all as the savior of Europe. He was undoubtedly right when 


he said, "Human gratitude is found as seldom as a white raven/' 
Meanwhile the festivities in Vienna continued. Dinners, 
receptions, dances, masquerades succeeded one another almost 
without interruption. Such festivities, however, could not pre- 
vent the spreading of rumors that the Congress had reached 
an impasse. Things went so far that England, France, and Aus- 
tria, having signed a secret treaty of alliance, were actively 
preparing for a war against Russia. But war clouds were gather- 
ing on another part of the European horizon. On March 1,1815, 
Napoleon disembarked with his Guard in the Gulf of Jutn. 
The news of Napoleon's flight from Elba was received by 
Metternich in the night of March 7. It was contained in a dis- 
patch from the Austrian consul general in Genoa and read: 

The British Commissioner Campbell entered port to ob- 
tain information whether Napoleon had not been seen in 
Genoa as he had disappeared from the island of Elba. As 
the answer was in the negative the British frigate took to 
sea without delay. 

Not expecting anything important from Genoa, Metternich 
did not take the trouble to read the dispatch at once and opened 
it only in the morning. As soon as he had read the short an- 
nouncement, he realized its importance. He went first to Em- 
peror Francis, then to Alexander, finally to the king of Prussia. 
In less than an hour a new war was decided upon. 

One can easily imagine what it meant to most of the people 
present in Vienna. The specter of a vindictive Napoleon re- 
turning to punish all the traitors presented itself before more 
than a score of eyes. Talleyrand was one of them. The Prince 

Prince Alexander Golitsyn 

Count Alexis Arakcheycv 

Courtesy of the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard Univc 

Emperor Alexander in 1815 


of Benevent knew that this time he would not obtain mercy 
from his twice-betrayed master. His high collar must have 
seemed to strangle him. He almost felt the cold steel knife of 
the guillotine on his neck. Such was the magnetic attraction 
of Napoleon's name, that everyone, forgetting the Corsican's 
defeats of not so long ago, remembered only his victories, and, 
trembling, awaited new ones. 

Upon landing on the soil of France, Napoleon had proudly 
announced to his soldiers: "The eagle with the national banner 
will fly from church steeple to church steeple until it reaches 
those of Notre Dame in Paris." And he proved to be right. 

Twenty days after he had disembarked in the Gulf of Juan, 
he was in Paris at the Tuileries Palace, without having fired a 
single shot, while Louis XVIII was hurrying toward Lille and 
the Belgian frontier. In his haste, the king of France left on his 
desk the text of the secret treaty directed against Russia. Want- 
ing to open Alexander's eyes to the treacherous behavior of his 
Allies and thus to secure him as a friend, Napoleon promptly 
sent this important document to Vienna, hoping to destroy the 
new coalition formed against him. Alexander, however, con- 
sidered that his mission would not be fulfilled if he permitted 
Napoleon's return. His belief in this mission was so strong that 
he did not hesitate. He called for Metternich and calmly 
showed him the incriminating document in the presence of a 

This was a moment of the greatest importance, Russia's 
policies had now the opportunity of following an open road 
in pursuance of their cherished aim, based on the sane prin- 
ciples of state egotism, and not on romanticism. But as was 


to have been expected mystical romanticism and the real 
greatness of Alexander's soul primed the sovereign's deci- 
sion. When Metternich started an explanation Alexander 
interrupted him by saying: "Metternich, as long as we live, 
there shall never be a word about this between us. We have 
other things to do at present. Napoleon has returned; there- 
fore our alliance must be stronger than ever." 

With these words Alexander threw the proof of Metter- 
nich's duplicity into the flames of an open fireplace. 

Napoleon's fate was decided at Waterloo. The Russian 
troops had time only to reach the Rhine. Alexander made a 
second entrance into Paris. But this time his feelings were far 
different from those of a year before. After all, he was right 
when he supposed that Paris might turn out to be a second 
Dresden. The same populace which had acclaimed him as its 
liberator, only a few months later had kissed the boots of the 
Corsican. In consequence, Alexander did not show much inter- 
est in the fate of Paris this time and abandoned it to the vexatious 
and arbitrary measures of his German allies. 

The Hundred Days having strengthened the bonds of com- 
mon interest among the Allies were also instrumental in bring- 
ing the Congress of Vienna to an end. When, after Waterloo, 
the plenipotentiaries gathered again, they did not retain any of 
the "fighting" spirit which they had displayed in the early 
months of the negotiations. The specter of the Corsican still 
held a strong spell over all of them. Too, summer had come, and 
the Viennese hostesses had left the capital. So no one remained 
to dance with, to flirt, or to intrigue with and the final act was 
speedily concluded on June 9, 1815. A new map of Europe 


came into being. The nations which did the least, however, 
obtained the most. They were England and Austria. The whole 
arrangement was nothing but a compromise of the big powers 
very similar in result to the dealings that took place a century 
later and which also brought a new map of Europe into 
existence. Metternich sacrificed Murat, King of Naples, to the 
interests of the Bourbons. Frederick William abandoned his 
ambitious dream of incorporating with Prussia the whole of 
Saxony. The eastern, i.e., the Balkan, question was completely 
left out of any settlement despite Alexander's previous desire 
to have it solved. Alexander had also to give up the complete 
restoration of Poland. 

Notwithstanding the active support that the Poles had given 
Napoleon during the invasion of Russia, Alexander had not 
lost his sympathy for the Polish nation. After the capture of 
Paris, he had received the submission of the Polish corps of 
Poniatowski, and instead of disbanding it sent it to Poland to 
form the nucleus of a national army under the command of 
Grand Duke Constantine. Hearing of this, the veteran 
Kosciuszko hastened to the French capital to pay homage to 
the Russian emperor and to offer his services to the new master 
of his country. At that time Alexander revealed his unselfish 
intentions with regard to the Poles in a letter to La Harpe: 
"My intention is to return to them all that I can get of their 
country, and to give them a constitution the elaboration of 
which I reserve to myself." But the difficulties he encountered 
in the realization of his plan were almost insurmountable. Not 
only did he have to face the stubborn opposition of his Allies, 
who feared that a restored Poland under a dynastic union with 
Russia would increase considerably Russia's might and upset 


the balance of power in Europe, but his own subjects grumbled 
at the idea of seeing old Russian lands included in a regenerated 
Poland. Alexander was unquestionably right when he said: 
"Poland has three enemies, Prussia, Austria, and Russia and 
one friend, myself." So he had to be content when finally he was 
able to restore a Polish kingdom with a much smaller territory 
than that before 1772, when the first partition of Poland took 

Of the other countries of Europe, the worst fate was suffered 
by Italy. She was dismembered once more, put under a multi- 
tude of foreign rulers, most of whom were Hapsburgs, with the 
exception of tiny Sardinia-Piedmont, and became nothing more 
than "a geographical expression." Belgium was given to the king 
of Holland in compensation for the lost Dutch colonies taken 
by England. The only small state that was unexpectedly 
favored was Switzerland. She received from the powers three 
new beautiful cantons and the guarantee of perpetual neu- 

Was all this worth the ruinous wars, the hundreds of thou- 
sands killed, the upsetting of the equilibrium of the world? In- 
deed it was, in the mind of Alexander. If he had failed to realize 
his "old favorite idea" to restore the kingdom of Poland in all 
its splendor and to add by doing so a new jewel to the crown 
of his dynasty, he had achieved two other things, perhaps more 
important in his own eyes. He had broken the power of Napo- 
leon and had set a moral Christian basis for the government of 
nations. His determination to bring to an end Napoleon's 
career as a mighty ruler had never left him for a single moment 
since the days of Austerlitz, the mere recollection of which still 
flushed his cheeks, since the days of Tilsit when he had come 


to know his opponent, since the tragic days of 1812 when he 
had found a revelation in the Holy Scriptures which opened 
his eyes to the road he must follow. Even when Napoleon 
made his spectacular escape from Elba and started his tri- 
umphant march across the country to its heart Paris he 
remained firmly convinced of the righteousness of the mis- 
sion he had undertaken. 

When La Harpe, deeply moved by the enthusiasm displayed 
by the French people toward Napoleon, tried to persuade 
Alexander that the projected new crusade against the Corsican 
and France was a violation of the inalienable right of a people 
to choose their master, and that the enforcement of a rule which 
had become hateful to the people could not contribute to a 
lasting peace, Alexander was sympathetic but firm. He could 
not believe that divine Providence would choose Napoleon 
as its tool for the welfare of France. Too much blood, too 
many tears were connected with Bonaparte's career. When 
later, not satisfied with Alexander's answer, La Harpe addressed 
his pupil once more, describing what he himself had seen in 
Paris after the return of the Eagle, he received a personal letter 
in which Alexander wrote: 

I have received your two letters. Forgive me for my frank- 
ness, but I completely disagree with you. To submit oneself 
to the genius of evil means to enforce his power, to place in 
his hands a tool for the erection of a tyranny much worse than 
the previous one. It is necessary to have the bravery to fight 
him, and with the help of divine Providence, through unity 
and perseverance we shall reach a happy outcome. This is 
my conviction. 


And after Napoleon had been shipped to the distant shores 
of Saint Helena, Alexander was able to satisfy himself with the 
thought that the "genius of evil," "the impious king" had 
received his deserved punishment and it was he, Alexander, the 
humble servant of Christ the Savior, who had indeed been 
chosen by divine Providence for the enactment of God's will. 

Had Alexander rested upon his military laurels as the man 
who defeated Napoleon, his fame would have been secure for 
all time. But it was at this time that his old dream of establishing 
a new "Respublica Christiana" in Europe took root firmly in 
his mind. As early as 1 804, when he was planning his first en- 
counter with Napoleon, he had entrusted Novossiltsov with the 
drafting of a document which, composed in the spirit of Chris- 
tian morals, was to become a first edition of the famous treaty 
of the Holy Alliance. The prophecy of Sevastianov on the eve 
of the first campaign in 1805, the memorable days of 1812, the 
final collapse of Napoleon's power all led Alexander to 
resurrect his vague plan of 1 804 and to offer to his Allies the 
most astonishing treaty of all times. 

In the early days of September, 1815 probably with the 
intention of restoring the prestige that the Russian armies had 
somewhat lost by their absence from the bloodstained field 
of Waterloo Alexander decided to display their well-trained 
strength as a reminder to friend and foe. He had never had much 
confidence in Austria's faith. As for Prussia, the disappointment 
with which she had received the settlements of Vienna, ac- 
cusing Alexander of not having kept his word with respect 
to Saxony, was rather alarming. So a great review of the entire 
Russian force was held upon the plain of Vertus, near Chalons. 

In the morning of September 10, the magnificent troops of 


Alexander's guard and line passed before the Russian sovereign 
and his guests, the emperor of Austria and the king of Prussia. 
It was a perfect display of what drilling can accomplish with 
military units. Not one of the 107,000 parading infantrymen 
was out of step. The Duke of Wellington, who was present, 
remarked with admiration: "I could never have imagined that 
it was possible to bring an army to such an extraordinary state 
of perfection." 

Here also, for the first time, the people of Europe watched 
the mass of the turbulent ranks of the Cossacks, the wild cavalry 
of the steppes, whose exploits during Napoleon's retreat had 
given them a world-wide reputation. But what was perhaps 
the most remarkable part of this display was the religious cere- 
mony which took place the next day. In the middle of the broad 
plain which the day before had served as a parade ground seven 
altars were erected, one for each army corps, and a Te Deum 
celebrated simultaneously at all the altars. The beautiful and 
imposing ritual of the Russian Orthodox Church with its rich 
display of sacerdotal garments, with its melodious chanting 
in the midst of magnificent scenery, impressed Emperor Francis 
and -King Frederick William perhaps as much as the display of 
sheer military force. 

Still under the powerful influence of this significant pag- 
eant, the sovereigns present at the review were invited by 
Alexander to affix their signatures to the famous document 
subsequently known to history as the Holy Alliance. 

By this document the emperor of Russia, the emperor of 
Austria and the king of Prussia formally declared that hence- 
forth their united policy had but a single object: 


To manifest before the whole universe their unshakable 
determination to take as their sole guide, both in the ad- 
ministration of their respective states and in their political 
relations with other governments, the precepts of religion, 
namely, the rules of Justice, Christian Charity, and Peace. 


ALEXANDER returned to his capital on December 14, 1815 and 
was acclaimed by his own people as the "victor of the in- 
vincible." But the Alexander who now resumed his task of 
sovereign was a very different one from the Alexander of four 
years before. It was obvious that even before applying the ideas 
of the Holy Alliance to his relations with other countries, Alex- 
ander was determined to make them the guiding principles of 
his rule over Russia. In an imperial manifesto promulgated 
on New Year's day, 1816, after thanking the army and the 
people for what they had done during the epic fight against 
Napoleon, whom he called "a criminal of common law," Alex- 
ander continued: 

But the very greatness of these deeds indicates that it was 
not solely our work. For their completion, God had given 
His strength to our feeble hands, His wisdom to our igno- 
rance, His foresight to our blindness. What shall we choose: 
pride or humility? Our pride would be unjust, ungrateful, 
criminal before the One who poured on us such great bene- 



fits; it would place us on the same level with those whom we 
deposed. Our humility will better our morals, it will efface 
our faults before God, will bring us honor, real glory, and 
will show to the world that we are fearful to none, but 
also that we fear no one. 

While pursuing the "impious king" across Europe, Alex- 
ander had left Russia in the hands of incompetent officials who 
did nothing to further the reforms so wisely begun. These 
reforms should have been followed by new and more extensive 
ones, but for four years nothing had been done for the better- 
ment of Russia's internal situation. The French charge 
d'affaires in St. Petersburg, Count de La Moussaye, gives an 
interesting description of Russia at that time: 

Russia is enjoying the glory which she won by her vic- 
tories. Dazzled by these successes the Russian empire puts 
itself in the front row and proclaims its sovereign the arbiter 
of Europe and of half of Asia. Meanwhile, the country 
itself is devoid of laws, of decent administration and is almost 
completely lacking in industries. . . . Arbitrary authorities 
govern the interests of ninety-nine per cent of the entire pop- 
ulation. . . . 

To sum it all up, everything comes up to the decision of 
this primitive power which is crushed under the burden of 
its endless attributions; 250,000 unsettled questions await 
the supreme decision; mistakes and iniquities complement 
each other and like the courts of justice the administration 
lags. . . . Four hundred million francs constitute the rev- 
enues of this empire which occupies one-seventh part of the 


entire globe; 300 millions are appropriated for the needs of 
the army whilst the sciences, the arts, all that which makes 
peace glorious is left undeveloped. 

A tributary of entire Europe for its needs and fantasies, 
Russia is unable even to clothe her soldiers by whose support 
alone she exists. . . . Seen from a close angle this country 
is far from offering the aspect of one of those nations which 
through a successive development of wise institutions, of 
virtues and the most noble faculties of mankind have rested 
their glory and their power on a solid foundation. 

For this state of affairs, Alexander alone was responsible. 
Yet after his return, aware as he was of the need for a wise ad- 
ministration of the affairs of Russia, he could not seem to bring 
himself to follow the ambitious course set in the first years of 
his reign. Metternich wrote: "It is from this time that Alex- 
ander became visibly tired of living." He found excuse after 
excuse for abandoning the affairs of state to others. He said: 

One cannot do all things at once; events did not permit 
me to busy myself with the affairs of government as I should 
have done. . . . The army, the government are not as I 
should like to see them, but how can one remedy it? One 
cannot accomplish everything with a single gesture; I have 
no collaborators. 

The great satisfaction he had felt after the defeat of Napo- 
leon had vanished. Qualms of conscience troubled him more 
and more. He suffered from insomnia and more than once the 
ghostly recollection of the night of March 23, 1801, made him 
tremble in cold sweat. His mind was occupied more and more 


with the problems of his own salvation. General Alexander 
Mikhailovsky-Danilevsky, who accompanied the emperor on 
many of his journeys, gives the following characteristic descrip- 
tion of Alexander in 1816: 

I spent . . . evenings in the same room with the emperor 
and not being a lover of dancing nor a seeker of new acquaint- 
ances, I was able to observe him constantly and found little 
sincerity in all his actions. Everything seemed to be nothing 
but a mask. As usual he was gay and talkative. He danced 
much, and wanted through his simplicity to have people 
forget his rank. Notwithstanding his inimitable amiability 
and the charm of his behavior, I could observe him from time 
to time casting glances, which indicated that his soul was 
troubled and that his innermost thoughts were directed to 
objects far removed from this ball and these women, who 
seemed to have captured his attention. 

This "troubled soul" of Alexander's prompted him to seek 
refuge from himself in endless travels. During the years from 
1816 to 1825, he made fourteen extensive trips through Russia, 
in addition to a number of visits to localities near St. Peters- 
burg and his European journeys to attend the congresses at Aix- 
la-Chapelle (Aachen), Troppau (Opava), Lajbach (Lju- 
bljana), and Verona. In fact, he spent two-thirds of these years 
outside his own capital. When he resided in St. Petersburg, he 
spent most of his time in the seclusion of his summer residence 
of Tsarskoye Selo. And he plunged deeper and deeper into the 
bottomless pit of religious mysticism opened to him in the dark 
hours of 1812 by Prince Alexander Golitsyn. 


It was Golitsyn and Rodion Koshelev who exercised the 
greatest influence on Alexander's spiritual development. These 
two men, so different in many respects, possessed a common 
bond not only in their spiritual philosophy but also in the deep 
friendship which Alexander had for both of them. The ex- 
tensive correspondence which the sovereign maintained with 
them as well as the frequent personal meetings kept Alexander 
in constant contact with these two men whom he called his 
"brothers in Christ." Of the two, Koshelev was more profound 
and better acquainted with the currents and trends of mystical 
thought in his time. Having married the sister of a well-known 
Russian mystic, S. I. Pleshcheyev, he became a freemason under 
the latter's influence. In order to obtain first-hand information 
on the prevailing trends in Europe, he traveled extensively. 
During these travels he met personally the leading mystics of 
the time, Saint Martin, Eckartshausen, Swedenborg, Lavater, 
and Jung-Stilling, with whom he maintained a lively corre- 
spondence. When settled in Russia again, Koshelev undertook 
to spread the fruit of his knowledge and of his belief among 
members of St. Petersburg society. To Alexander he sent every 
new publication of European and Russian mystics, invariably 
receiving warm acknowledgments in which the emperor hum- 
bly recommended himself to his "dear and tender friend's" 
prayers and signed himself, "Yours, heart and soul in Our Lord 
the Savior." 

Before Koshelev gained his ascendancy over Alexander, he 
was instrumental in bringing Golitsyn into the fold of mysti- 
cism. Scion of an illustrious family descended from Gedimin, 
grand duke of Lithuania, Prince Alexander Golitsyn spent 
a frivolous childhood and youth at the court of the Great Cath- 


erine, where he was a playmate of Alexander's. During the 
reign of Emperor Paul he was banished from the capital and 
resided in Moscow. There he completed his rather haphazard 
education by extensive reading in the enormous library of 
Count Buturlin. Upon Alexander's accession to the throne 
Golitsyn returned to St. Petersburg and to the great surprise 
of everybody including himself was appointed Procurator of 
the Holy Synod, which office made him the administrative head 
of the Russian Orthodox Church. A few years later Alex- 
ander added to his duties those of the State Office for Foreign 
Religions which dealt with the legally recognized faiths out- 
side the Russian Orthodox. Contrary to all expectations, Golit- 
syn proved to be an able and tactful administrator. During 
his tenure of office he met Koshelev and, to the astonishment 
of his friends, soon abandoned his gay and frivolous life to 
consecrate himself to the study of the Bible and of writers 
on mysticism. Golitsyn's intimate contact with Alexander can 
be illustrated best by the fact that during a ten-year period he 
dined with the emperor 3,635 times, which is almost every day. 

Devoted as he was to Golitsyn and Koshelev, Alexander did 
not confine his quest for salvation to what these two mystics 
could offer him. He turned to wherever he thought he could 
find those spiritual values which had been denied him in his 
youth. With the greatest eagerness he opened his heart and 
soul to everyone and everything that seemed to have a divine 
message for him. It was this eagerness to find revelation at each 
turn of the road that placed him for a brief but eventful year 
under the influence of one of the strangest personalities of that 
troubled epoch Baroness de Kriidener. 

In the month of June, 1815, the little town of Heilbrunn 


had been chosen for the headquarters of the Russian army, 
hurrying from the eastern borders of Prussia to the scene of re- 
newed conflict with the returned Eagle. Alexander arrived 
from Vienna, stopping on his way in Munich and Stuttgart. 
After the glamor and f estivities of the Bavarian and the Wiirt- 
temberg courts, which were intended to outdo the receptions 
tendered Alexander in Vienna, the emperor sighed with relief 
when, on June 4, he reached the quiet German city. Alexander 
was pleased with his modest quarters, with the unintelligent 
appearance of the inhabitants, with the hot days and cool nights. 
At other times all this would have annoyed him, but now he 
felt it was beneficial to him because at last he could collect his 
thoughts and meditate upon the mysterious ways of divine 

"My first action was to open the Holy Book which I have 
always with me," Alexander related in later years to Coun- 
tess Edling, "but my mind could not grasp the sense of what 
I was reading. My thoughts were incoherent, my heart was 
oppressed. I put the book aside and started to think what a 
relief it would have been for me at such a time to have a real 
talk with a person who would be in spiritual unity with me. 
This thought made me recall you and what you told me about 
Madame de Kriidener as well as my desire communicated to 
you to meet her. 'Where is she?' I asked myself, 'and how 
could I meet her? Probably never!' 

"At that moment I heard a knock at the door. It was Prince 
Volkonsky. With an air of impatience and discontent he 
told me that he was sorry to trouble me, but that he did it 
only to free himself from the insistence of a woman who 


demanded to see me. He said it was Madame de Kriidener. 
You can imagine my surprise! It seemed to me as if I were 
dreaming. Such a sudden answer to my thoughts seemed to 
me to be more than a coincidence. I received her immediately 
and she addressed me, as if she were reading my very soul, 
with strong and consoling words, which calmed the troubled 
thoughts that had been torturing me for ever so long. Her ap- 
pearance proved to be a real benefit to me and I promised 
myself to continue this acquaintance, which was of such 
obvious importance to me." 

Barbara Juliana von Vietinghoff was born in Riga on No- 
vember 11, 1764. At the age of eighteen she married Baron de 
Kriidener, a Russian diplomat, almost twice her age. Un- 
balanced, exalted by nature, she did not find enough attraction 
in her family life to hold her, and in 1789 formed a passionate 
attachment for a young French officer. She left her husband 
and followed her lover to France. In 1798, when Baron de 
Kriidener was Russian ambassador in Berlin, she returned and 
for a time was reconciled with him. Her husband's death in 
1802 finally released her. In the following two years she lived 
mostly in Paris where under the influence of Chateaubriand 
she wrote a sentimental and largely autobiographical novel, 
Valerie. In 1804, she returned to Riga where she underwent 
"conversion" under the ministrations of a Moravian cobbler. 
From that time dates her extraordinary career in the execution 
of her "mission" in Europe as indicated to her by the "con- 


At Konigsberg she met a peasant named Adam Miiller who 


revealed to her that a man would arise "from the north . . . 
from the rising of the sun" (Isa. XLI, 25) to destroy the anti- 
Christ (Napoleon) and that the millenium would then begin. 
After this the Baroness spent eleven years wandering over 
Europe before she was able to reveal to Emperor Alexander 
that he was the predestined man "from the rising of the sun," 

She came and conquered. Indeed the hour was hers. She was 
to become Alexander's inspiration and his judge. She was to 
follow him to Heidelberg where the general headquarters 
were soon transferred. She remained with him all through the 
year 1815, even appearing at the great review of troops at 
Vertus, where she rode in an open carriage and received atten- 
tions of princes and marshals, statesmen and politicians, servants 
of God and adventurers. Yet she did not accompany Alexander 
back to Russia, because she lost her balance and began to at- 
tribute to her own influence certain acts of the Russian emperor, 
foremost among which was the organization of the Holy Al- 
liance. In consequence, Alexander was naturally inclined to 
distrust further activities on the part of the exalted baroness. 
He did not break with her openly, but gradually freed himself 
from her entangling influence. 

When, in 1821, Baroness de Kriidener went to St. Peters- 
burg to plead the cause of the Greek revolution, the support 
of which did not enter into Alexander's plans, the man "from 
the rising of the sun" refused to see her and sent her a letter 
in which he asked the erstwhile guide of his conscience not 
only to stop her pro-Greek propaganda, but even to leave the 
capital of Russia. It was the end of Barbara Juliana von Vieting- 
hoff Baroness de Kriidener. She went to the Crimea where she 


died on December 25, 1824. A few hours before her death 
she said, "The good I have done will endure; the evil I have 
done the mercy of God will blot out." 

Having imposed the spirit of humility on his subjects, in 
the manifesto of January i, 1816, Alexander prescribed this 
spirit also for himself. In September, 1816, he visited Kiev, the 
ancient southern capital of Russia and a venerated religious 
shrine, where he went to see the blind monk Vassian, famed 
for his holy life. There, in the monk's humble cell he spent an 
entire evening from eight until midnight. As soon as he entered 
the monk's abode, Alexander said: "Give me your blessing! 
I have already heard about you in St. Petersburg and I am eager 
to converse with you. Please give me your blessing." Vassian 
wanted to bow to the ground before the emperor, as was cus- 
tomary, but Alexander prevented him from doing so and, after 
kissing the monk's hand, said: "Worship is due to God alone. 
I am a human being like all the others and a Christian; please 
hear my confession as you would from any of your spiritual 


He showed similar marks of simplicity and humility when 
he visited, in 1819, the monastery of Valaam in northern Rus- 
sia. Previous to this he had issued through the Holy Synod an 
order to all the Russian Orthodox clergy not to glorify him 
in the Sunday sermons as they were doing, but to forget about 
the earthly king and to think more about the heavenly king of 

During these years his whole attitude toward life had 
changed. He no longer enjoyed festivities. When he was 
obliged to attend some of them he could scarcely conceal his 
impatience until such time as he could depart gracefully. His 


kindness and extreme politeness were still apparent, but any 
observant onlooker could discern that something was wrong; 
that deeply hidden somewhere in Alexander's soul burned a 
scorching flame which threatened to destroy not only his 
frame but his very essence. 

This change in him did not escape the notice of his family. 
To the inquiries of his beloved sister, Catherine, about his new 
trend of mind, Alexander responded by sending her a plan of 
reading about mysticism with a varied and extensive list of 
books which show his familiarity with a vast number of works 
on the subject. This plan was prefaced by a general intro- 
duction which clearly reveals Alexander's conception of 

The origin of the so-called mystic societies is lost in the 
most remote antiquity. . . . The Christian religion has laid 
down the link uniting the ancient and the present societies. 
At its beginning, Christianity was nothing but a mystic 
society. No one who had failed to pass certain tests and was 
not purified could enter the Church of Jerusalem. The policy 
of rulers has transformed this mystic teaching into a universal 
religion. But having discovered the ritual, their policy could 
not bring to light its mystery. Therefore at present as ever 
there is a visible and an invisible Church. The foundation in 
the teaching of both Churches is the same: the Bible. But 
the first one knows only its text, whilst the second reveals 
its essence. . . . 

It was in search of the essence of Christianity that Alexander 
devoured text after text of Christian writings. Feverishly he 


stretched his hands out for that greatest gift of divine Provi- 
dence peace to his troubled soul. Not finding solace in the 
spiritual haven of the Russian Church, Alexander approached 
other manifestations of the Christian spirit with an almost 
childlike hopefulness. 

Countess de Choiseul-Gouffier wrote in her memoirs: 

The Dominican fathers, who succeeded the Jesuits in 
St. Petersburg, possess a prayer book which they used to 
lend to Alexander when he came to pray in their chapel at 
unfrequented hours. They also conserve the tassels with 
which this sovereign marked the prayers he had chosen and 
they were always sad ones. . . . He showed great tolerance 
in the matter of religious opinion. "I think," he said, "that it 
is indifferent to God whether one invokes Him in Greek or 
in Latin; the essential is to do it from the bottom of a sincere 

It was in this spirit that Alexander, in 1818, during his jour- 
ney through the Crimea, assisted at a religious ceremony of a 
Russian sect known as Dukhobory and announced to its mem- 
bers that he was their protector. In that same year, 1818, when 
in Berlin on his way to the Congress at Aachen, Alexander 
listened with great emotion to a sermon delivered by the Lu- 
theran bishop, Eylert. He invited Eylert to the palace and had 
a long talk with him on religious matters, and asked Eylert to 
visit him in Russia. A few years later when, in 1822, he was on 
his way to the Congress of Verona, Alexander stopped in 
Vienna especially to confer with Prince Alexander von 
Hohenlohe, who was a Roman Catholic abbot famed for his 


exemplary Christian life. Before that trip was undertaken, 
Alexander had to give his mother a solemn promise not to visit 
the Pope, as his leanings toward Catholicism were suspected by 
his family and the dowager empress feared that the Pope might 
induce him to embrace the Catholic faith. 

It was this search for the spiritual treasures of any Christian 
denomination that prompted Alexander to receive in his capital, 
in 1819, two representatives of the Society of Friends. The 
followers of William Penn had made early attempts to approach 
the rulers of that mysterious country known to them still as 
Moscovia. In 1 698, they had obtained an audience with Peter 
the Great when the latter sojourned in London. However, this 
first attempt to establish a contact with Russia was unsuccessful 
mainly because of the personality of Emperor Peter, who did 
not favor any mystical inclinations on the part of his people 
and who, therefore, did not find any use for the offer of the 
Quakers. Perhaps the personal agnosticism of Peter also had 
something to do with the failure of this first mission of the 
Friends. In later years their attempts were doomed also, as 
eighteenth-century Russia had no use for the Quaker's Christian 
and philanthropic activities. But in Alexander their hopes to 
reform Russia seemed to find a sympathetic understanding. 

When Alexander visited London, in 1814, William Allen, 
an Englishman, and Stephen Grellet, a naturalized American of 
French birth, requested an audience with the Russian emperor, 
after having obtained one with the king of Prussia. This 
granted, on the twenty-first of June they presented themselves 
at Alexander's residence, which was the house rented for his 
sister, the Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna. Grellet left a 
colorful description of this meeting in his memoirs: 


Dear William Allen and another Friend went with me to 
the Pultney Hotel at the time appointed by the emperor. 
He came to meet us at the door of his apartment, took us by 
the hand in a kind manner, and said that for a long time he 
had wished an opportunity to be with us. Through the em- 
press, who was at Baden when I was at Karlsruhe last winter, 
he said that he had heard of me and of my visit there. Then 
he inquired into several of our religious testimonies, prin- 
ciples and practices, to which dear William Allen answered 
in English, which language the emperor speaks well. Whilst 
William was engaged in stating the nature of our Christian 
principles, the emperor said several times, "These are my 
own sentiments also." We entered fully into the subject of 
our testimony against war, to which he fully assented. . . . 
I addressed a few words to him; his heart appeared sensibly 
and tenderly affected. With tears, he took hold of my hand, 
which he held silently for a while, and then said, "These, your 
words, are a sweet cordial to my soul; they will long remain 
engraven on my heart." We furnished him with a number of 
Friends' books, which he received with pleasure, and on our 
taking leave of him, having been together upward of an hour, 
he took each of us by the hand and said, "I part from you as 
friends and brethren; feelings which I hope will ever remain 
with me." 

A few days later, Alexander, accompanied by the Grand 
Duchess Catherine, the Russian ambassador in London 
Count Lieven and William Allen, visited a Friends' meeting 
at the Westminster Meeting House. Grellet noted: 


It proved a good and solemn meeting. The emperor and 
the grand duchess, by their solemn countenances and reli- 
gious tenderness, gave evidence that they felt it to be so to 

Feeling great satisfaction from Alexander's favorable at- 
titude toward the Friends' appeal to end war, Grellet stated: 

Alexander especially appeared to feel the subject deeply, 
and to be sincere in his desire for the promotion of harmony, 
love and peace throughout the world. He told us that his 
concern had been great that the several crowned heads might 
conclude to settle their differences by arbitration and not 
by the sword. 

When parting with the Friends, Alexander invited them to 
visit him in Russia. It was almost four years before William 
Allen and Stephen Grellet could undertake this journey. 
Finally they arrived in St. Petersburg in November, 1818. 
They were received by the emperor not in an official audience 
but as "old personal friends," according to Alexander's own 
words. After a prolonged conversation in which Alexander 
astounded the two Quakers by his deep knowledge of religious 
matters, the meeting ended with a silent prayer proposed by the 
emperor himself. 

While Alexander was engaged in his almost desperate quest 
of salvation, Russia felt a deep disappointment in him. The 
best, though perhaps not the most profound, minds of the 
empire were engaged in speculations about a change in the form 


of government. Having observed the more democratic systems 
of western Europe during the campaigns of 1813 and 1814, 
many officers of the guard and line began to discuss the ad- 
visability of introducing a constitution in Russia. These men 
formed secret societies for this purpose and eventually pre- 
cipitated the abortive uprising of December, 1825. When in- 
formed of the activities and aims of these societies Alexander 
remarked: "I cannot prosecute those to whom I have shown the 
way." He had not forgotten his youthful dreams nor the in- 
tentions of the first years of his reign, but he seemed to be 
disenchanted, tired, vanquished by reality, and preoccupied 
with a loftier though more personal pursuit. Seeking the sal- 
vation of his troubled soul left him little time for the salvation 
of Russia's soul. Unfortunately for Russia, he left her to the 
care of the man of the hour Count Arakcheyev, the only 
loyal servant Emperor Paul had ever had. 



ON MARCH 23, 1801, at the very hour when Emperor Paul 
was being murdered, Count Alexis Andreyevich Arakcheyev 
reached the barrier of St. Petersburg, having been recalled from 
his exile only the day before. By express orders of Count Pahlen, 
however, he was not permitted to enter the capital at once. 
Arakcheyev stepped out of his sleigh and watched silently the 
turbulent clouds above him. His ugly face lifted toward heaven 
was expressionless. But his head was filled with thoughts as 
agitated as the clouds he gazed on. The military governor's 
orders were not in the least surprising to him. He knew their 
meaning. He knew that they marked the death hour of his 
master. But he was not disturbed. He knew that his time would 
still come and he was prepared to wait for it. With the first rays 
of a winter sun breaking through the clouds he was permitted 
to cross the barrier into the city. 

Born in 1769, the eldest son of an insignificant and poor 
country gentleman, Arakcheyev owed his spectacular rise 
exclusively to himself. At the age of fourteen he was admitted 
as a cadet to the artillery school for young nobles in St. Peters- 



burg. He soon showed marked ability in his studies, especially 
in mathematics, and was transferred to the senior classes of the 
school less than a year after his entrance. He was hard working, 
punctual, accurate, thrifty. These qualities remained his chief 
characteristics throughout his life. A hard worker himself, he 
expected the same from others. Exact in the fulfillment of his 
duties, he demanded from his subordinates rigid compliance 
with his orders. No wonder then that he was unpopular with 
his fellow cadets whom he drilled unmercifully first as a sergeant 
and later as an officer. However, he was liked by his superiors 
and, especially, by General Melisino, director of the school, 
who wrote to him on April 15, 1787: 

From today on you are free to attend classes or to study 
by yourself. You will draw up a plan of studies for your- 
self and will render an account of it only to your conscience. 
. . . Your true friend, P. Melisino. 

Though such relations between a student and the head of a 
school often exist in our days, they were unheard of in the 
eighteenth century, especially in militarized Russia. When at 
the end of 1787, Arakcheyev received his commission as lieu- 
tenant of artillery, it was Melisino who recommended the 
young officer as tutor for the sons of Count Nicholas Soltykov. 
It was Melisino again who appointed Arakcheyev, in 1791, 
to teach artillery in his alma mater, and when in the following 
year the good general heard that the Grand Duke Paul was 
looking for an artillery officer for his small Gatchina troop, 
Melisino succeeded in persuading the heir to the throne to 
choose his favorite for that post. 


For four years Arakcheyev labored relentlessly at drilling, 
parading and maneuvering the Gatchina troop. He busied him- 
self also with the modernization of the artillery entrusted to his 
command, and won continual praise from Paul. In later years, 
Arakcheyev said that "service in Gatchina was difficult though 
not entirely unpleasant." His subordinates, however, were 
of a different opinion. They found service under Arakcheyev 
almost unbearable, because he was not only demanding but also 
fiercely brutal. This streak of brutality had already manifested 
itself at the time when Arakcheyev had been instructor in his 
own school, where scourging his pupils with birch rods had 
been his favorite pastime. At Gatchina he applied the same 
system of punishment to his soldiers, varying it sometimes by 
striking their faces with his fists or with anything that he had at 
hand. At one time, in a fit of rage, he bit off the ear of a soldier 
who had displeased him. 

Yet all this did not interfere with Arakcheyev's spectacular 
rise. On Paul's accession to the throne, the new emperor's 
favors poured upon Arakcheyev. By that time he had already 
reached the rank of colonel. On November 18, 1796, Paul 
appointed him Commandant of St. Petersburg and had him 
inscribed on the lists of the Preobrazhensky Regiment (the 
most exclusive of all the regiments of the Imperial Guard). 
The next day he was promoted to the rank of major general. 
On December 23 of the same year, the emperor presented him 
with a landed estate, Gruzino, in the province of Novgorod, 
with two thousand peasant serfs. On April 16 of the next year, 
during Paul's coronation in Moscow, Arakcheyev received the 
Grand Cross of the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky and the 
title of baron. When the coat of arms of the new baron was 


presented to Paul for approval, the emperor added to it the 
inscription: "Devoted without flattery." Through a resem- 
blance of words in Russian this motto offered opportunity to 
Arakcheyev's enemies to interpret it to mean: "Devil of devoted 

At the beginning of 1797, Arakcheyev was appointed quar- 
termaster general. Soon after that he was also given command 
of the Preobrazhensky Regiment. He thus became one of the 
most important and most powerful personages in the empire. 
However, his brutalities continued, and as a result of one in- 
cident during which he had struck a colonel of the Guards in 
the face and the latter had committed suicide, he was dismissed 
from active service though with promotion to the rank of 
lieutenant general. But Paul could not remain long without his 
favorite, and less than a year after his dismissal Arakcheyev 
was recalled. He soon regained the confidence of his master, 
received the appointment of inspector general of all the artillery 
in the empire, obtained the Commander's Cross of the Maltese 
Order of which Paul had become the general and protector, 
was created a count, and thus reached the top ranks of the 
dignitaries surrounding the throne. 

During this period Arakcheyev ingratiated himself with 
young Alexander. Their relationship had started in Gatchina 
before Paul's accession to the throne when the latter had or- 
dered Arakcheyev to instruct Alexander in all the refinements 
of the military service as practiced at the Gatchina court. In No- 
vember, 1796, when Emperor Paul appointed Alexander Mili- 
tary Governor of St. Petersburg and Inspector General of the 
Guards stationed in the capital, the young heir to the throne had 
almost daily contacts with Arakcheyev whose duty it was as 


commandant of the capital and later as quartermaster general 
to countersign all orders issued by Alexander. Knowing the 
demands of the service better than Alexander and often being 
able to shield him from Paul's anger, Arakcheyev soon became 
indispensable to the young grand duke. In return Alexander 
became more and more attached to Arakcheyev, and one of 
the strangest friendships of history a friendship between a 
refined and enlightened ruler and an ill-mannered, narrow- 
minded and brutal soldier was formed. 

On October 1 2, 1799, Arakcheyev was dismissed from active 
service for the second time. And this time his dismissal was 
accompanied by banishment to his estate from where he re- 
turned only on the night of Paul's murder. This second dismissal 
was caused by a lie which he had told Emperor Paul in order 
to shield his, Arakcheyev's, brother. A petty theft occurred in 
the arsenal while this brother, a major of infantry, was on 
duty. Arakcheyev concealed this fact when reporting the oc- 
currence to the emperor and accused another officer who was 
promptly put under arrest. Count Kutaisov, Paul's former bar- 
ber and Arakcheyev's rival for the emperor's favors, revealed 
the lie. Thereupon Paul's anger knew no bounds. Alexander 
tried to intervene with his father for his unfortunate friend but 
to no avail. He wrote to Arakcheyev a pitiful letter in which 
he expressed his sorrow for not having been able to shield his 
friend from the emperor's wrath. A few months later Alexander 
ascended the throne of his ancestors, stained with the blood of 
his father. 

It was precisely because he sensed Alexander's spiritual 
troubles, arising from the memory of the fateful night of 
March 23, 1801, that Arakcheyev was able to obtain an almost 


fantastic hold on his sovereign. He was ingenious in finding 
ways to remind Alexander that he alone could not possibly 
have been suspected of ever having plotted against Emperor 

On June 19, 1810, Alexander made his first visit to Arak- 
cheyev's estate. On this occasion the one who called himself 
Alexander's "faithful friend" took extraordinary pains to im- 
press the emperor with the true nature of his faithfulness. At 
the entrance to the estate Alexander was met by Arakcheyev 
whom he embraced warmly. Arakcheyev then led his guest 
to the church. There they were met by the priest with the 
cross and the holy water. Alexander ascended the shining white 
steps and entered the church. The church of Gruzino was 
simple, austere and cold. After Alexander's eyes had grown ac- 
customed to its semi-darkness, he saw on the left wall a large 
bas-relief of his father. It was the memorial erected by Arak- 
cheyev to the murdered emperor. Cut in white marble by 
Martos, Emperor Paul looked down on his son with wide 
open, surprised eyes as if to say, "I did not expect you to come 
here and disturb my peace." Alexander also noticed an inscrip- 
tion which ran in golden letters along the wall above the 
memorial: "My heart is pure and my spirit just before you." 
Alexander stood motionless, breathless, envious of the man who 
could honestly say that. 

Noiselessly, like a cat, Arakcheyev approached the emperor. 
"Yes, Your Majesty," he said. "And I have him always with 
me." With these words he unbuttoned his uniform and pro- 
duced a small miniature in enamel. Paul, in a powdered wig, 
wearing the Grand Cross of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem 
(Order of Malta) , stared at Alexander with his pale blue convex 


eyes. "Given to me by His Imperial Majesty himself, of blessed 
memory," Arakcheyev added with a sigh and buttoning his uni- 
form lifted his eyes to the golden inscription on the wall. With 
trembling fingers Alexander grasped Arakcheyev's hand and 
pressed it hard. Thus they stood, the servant and the son of 
Paul I, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias, united by in- 
visible yet indissoluble bonds. Arakcheyev had won his greatest 
victory. He had flicked the ever-bleeding wound in Alex- 
ander's heart and, like the perfect charlatan he was, he intended 
to pose as the only one capable of healing it whenever he wanted 
to do so. 

The rise of Arakcheyev was as gradual as it was steady. Dur- 
ing the Napoleonic wars he became Alexander's military secre- 
tary. The seventy-seven letters from Alexander to Arakcheyev 
during 1812 and the nearly one hundred for the years from 
1813 to 1814 prove the confidence he inspired in his mas- 
ter. They also prove how much Alexander depended on 
Arakcheyev. When, in 1814, Alexander went to England, 
Arakcheyev remained in Germany for a cure. The emperor's 
letter to him from London, dated June 3, reveals the kind of 
attachment Alexander had for "the hermit of Gruzino," as 
Arakcheyev was bitingly nicknamed by Prince Golitsyn: 

It was a great sacrifice for me to part with you. Please 
receive once more my gratitude for the numerous services 
which you have performed, the memory of which will re- 
main with me forever. After fourteen years of reign, after 
two years of a ruinous and most dangerous war, I see myself 
deprived of the man in whom my confidence has always been 
unlimited. I dare say that no one has ever enjoyed such con- 


fidence and that no one's absence has ever been so hard to 
bear. Ever your faithful friend, Alexander. 

Alexander liked order and uniformity. His desk was always 
kept in perfect order according to the pattern he had set, and 
he demanded that the papers brought for his signature should 
always be of the same size. For him, one of the main attrac- 
tions of Gruzino was, perhaps, the study which Arakcheyev 
had arranged for him. It was an exact copy of his own study in 
St. Petersburg. The desk, the writing materials, the candle- 
sticks and accessories had been exactly reproduced and arranged 
in the same relative positions. 

Alexander's love of symmetry was exaggerated to such an 
extent that he had the furniture in his rooms severely aligned, 
recalling "the regular beauty of military parades" which had 
always fascinated him. In the same spirit he preferred the towns 
of central and western Europe to Russian towns because of 
their more obvious planning, because of their symmetry. The 
Russian cities, which looked as if someone had opened a mighty 
hand and strewn houses over a large space in complete dis- 
order, did not appeal to Alexander. Between the semi- Asiatic 
Moscow and the symmetrical St. Petersburg, European at 
least in appearance, Alexander certainly preferred the "para- 
dise" of Peter the Great notwithstanding the terrible memories 
which it evoked in him. 

Alexander often thought how wonderful it would be if he 
could create a system by which every citizen would have a 
definite place and a definite role in the complexity of the state's 
existence. Each one in the empire should work part of his time 
for himself while devoting the remainder to the state which was 

Chapel over the tomb of Fyodor Kuzmich iri the cemetery at Tomsk, 


to procure the means for everybody's existence. At regular 
intervals there would be days of rest, of organized rest and en- 
tertainment under the supervision of superiors appointed by 
the state. Alexander dreamed of seeing the life of civilians 
emulate that of soldiers. In a regiment every soldier, every 
officer knows his place and his functions. In the army every- 
thing is precise and harmonious. Could not this military organi- 
zation and discipline be applied to the everyday life of the 
entire population of the empire? 

When Alexander read the book by General Servan entitled, 
Sur les forces frontieres des etats, he found in it the formula- 
tion of his idea. The French general advocated the creation of 
military colonies along the frontiers of the Napoleonic Empire 
and, though Napoleon had not found any use for this plan, 
Alexander intended to give it a thorough test. He ordered 
Prince Volkonsky to translate this work into Russian so as to 
make its contents accessible to Arakcheyev who was not versed 
in the language of Voltaire and Boileau. When the translation 
was completed, Alexander supplemented it with his own in- 
terpretation and sent it to his "faithful friend." The project 
in its final form was founded upon a humanitarian idea. Its 
plan was so designed that it would not be necessary to deprive 
the soldier in time of peace of the benefits of family life. At the 
same time it would relieve the state's budget from the heavy 
expenditures that the maintenance of a large armed force in- 
curred, because the soldiers were to provide by their labor not 
only for their own existence but also for the livestock of the 
army. It was Arakcheyev whom Alexander chose to execute 
this plan of state socialism. It was known under the name of 
"military settlements." 


In 1816, Alexander ordered an entire county of the province 
of Novgorod around Arakcheyev's estate, which had already 
been militarized since 1810, to be placed under the regime of 
military settlements. The local peasants became militarized and 
the troops sent to this county settled down to till the soil. In 
addition to the regular routine of military service the soldiers 
had to work as laborers on a "militarized" farm, while the 
peasants had to don uniforms, have their heads and beards 
shaved, and learn in their spare time the regulations of military 

Alexander could rejoice now at the new picture which this 
part of the country offered to his eyes. The shabby gray houses, 
the wooden hedges had disappeared. In their stead, neat little 
houses, all alike, all of the same color, stood in perfect alignment. 
In addition to these homes the military settlers received advance 
funds, horses, cows, fowl, new agricultural implements. Yet 
they had to be dragged in by force, because they refused obsti- 
nately to see any "benefits" in this new venture. This puzzled 
Alexander. He could not understand the obstinacy of his sub- 
jects. Why could they not see the numerous advantages of this 
experiment? Did not the soldiers thus enjoy life with their 
families? Did not the new houses offer more comfort, better 
hygienic conditions, a more esthetic outlook when they stood 
side by side like so many Prussian guardsmen? Did not the new 
administration care for the peasants in a really fatherly way? 
Were not all marriageable young men inscribed on special lists 
so that no girl, no widow, would remain without a life com- 
panion? If some of the marriages were arranged by the ad- 
ministration of the settlements, was it not for the good of the 
inhabitants? After all, their part in the life of the state should 


not be selfish; it should be for the benefit of all living and for 
that of future generations. 

It was with this lofty aim in view that Count Arakcheyev 
imposed a fine on every married woman residing on his estate 
who did not bear a child every year. How could people speak 
of cruelty when all this was done exclusively for their benefit? 
Alexander was puzzled. He was so sincerely convinced of the 
excellence of his enterprise that he failed to see the reasons of 
those who opposed him, though they might have constituted 
the entire nation. He considered that his slave-subjects, like 
children, did not know what was best for them, and for their 
own sake he was determined to carry out his plan. In con- 
sequence, the military settlements were expanded. Toward 
the end of his reign, thirty-six battalions of infantry and two 
hundred and forty-nine squadrons of cavalry were inscribed 
on the lists of the military settlements of Little Russia and 
ninety battalions of infantry in Great Russia. This constituted 
one-third of the entire Russian army in time of peace. 

Alexander was pleased with this success although it had been 
achieved over rivers of tears and blood. Local revolts were 
frequent, but they were quelled in a rapid and radical manner. 
Capital punishment having been abolished except for high 
treason, the culprits were forced to run the gauntlet between 
lines of men wielding birch rods soaked in salt, or ramrods, 
and there can be no wonder that many of them died as a result 
of such treatment. However, in 1819, a revolt of large pro- 
portions occurred in Chuguyev, where more than a thousand 
settlers directed their wrath and guns against their oppressors. 
Arakcheyev summoned loyal troops and put down the revolt. 
He then sent a detailed report to Alexander in which he dis- 


coursed at length on the futility and ingratitude of human 
beings who are always dissatisfied and do not really know them- 
selves what they want. He accompanied his report by a letter 

in which he wrote: 



In presenting my official report, I write this not to my 
sovereign, but to my friend, Alexander Pavlovich, and there- 
fore I open here my heart. The recent happenings which oc- 
curred here have disconcerted me considerably; I will not 
hide from you that some of the criminals the most wicked 
ones have died after receiving the punishment prescribed 
by law and that I am beginning to be tired of all this. . . . 
Until the end of my feeble life I remain your loyal subject 


To this Alexander replied: 

My sincere attachment to you, my dear Alexis Andreye- 
vich, is known to you from olden times and therefore you 
will understand what I felt when reading your papers. On the 
one hand I was able to understand fully what your tender 
heart had to suffer under the circumstances described; on the 
other, I am also able to appreciate the prudence and wisdom 
which you have displayed during this serious trouble. I 
thank you sincerely and from the bottom of my heart for 
all the pains that you have taken. 

Toward the end of Alexander's reign the settlers remained 
peaceful, not because they liked the regime but because they 


saw no way out. The institution of the military settlements 
thus continued in operation, although hated by each and every 
one of the settlers and by the vast majority of the rest of the 
Russian population; but Alexander was not aware of all this 
and so remained perfectly content. The only thing that worried 
him at this rime was Arakcheyev's poor health which, in 1822, 
seemed to have reached an alarming state. Arakcheyev fainted 
one day at a meeting of the Committee of Ministers. On Alex- 
ander's advice he then took a prolonged leave of absence and 
went to Gruzino, whence he wrote plaintive letters to the 
emperor until the latter sent his own physician to Gruzino 
Sir James Wylie. After such marked attention from his master, 
Arakcheyev felt noticeably better. 

Encouraged by his apparently unlimited influence over 
Alexander, Arakcheyev began to lay Machiavellian plans for 
the removal of his most important rival in the emperor's affec- 
tion Prince Alexander Golitsyn. The Minister of Spiritual 
Affairs was still not only Alexander's intimate friend but also 
his most esteemed adviser in religious matters. Alexander could 
not forget the spiritual debt he owed Golitsyn for bringing 
him to the road of mystical Christianity in the tragic hours of 
1812. But Arakcheyev knew his victim well, and was prepared 
to fight Golitsyn with his own weapons. Arakcheyev's tool 
was Peter Nikitich Spasky, better known as Archimandrite 

Born in 1792, the son of a village sexton, young Peter spent 
a sad childhood during which his father, often drunk, used to 
beat him severely. Afterward, when he entered a seminary in 
preparation for the priesthood, the beatings were resumed by 
the educators. Having thus received an early training in "morti- 


fication" of the flesh, he decided to take orders, and in 1817 
became a monk taking the name of Foty. The young monk had 
the nature of a fanatic. Not content with following the general 
monastic rules, he mortified his flesh by wearing chains which 
wounded his body and a hair shirt which prevented the healing 
of the wounds. He was subject to hallucinations and related in 
his autobiography how he fought the devil in his own cell. 
With the passing of years, visions and hallucinations became 
more frequent. When transferred to St. Petersburg to teach 
theology, he was tempted by the devil for long months to 
perform a miracle in order to reveal the power of God. The 
worst of these temptations was when the devil suggested that 
Foty should cross the Neva river directly opposite the Winter 
Palace, walking on the waves like Christ himself. Finally Foty 
emerged a victor from the midst of these temptations and 
"wisely declined to perform the miracle." 

Foty then applied all his energy to the fight against moral 
corruption in the capital. In 1820, he "converted" the Countess 
Anna Orlov-Chesmensky, a superstitious and bigoted spinster, 
whose immense wealth and powerful influence at the imperial 
court were to serve well the purpose of the fanatic monk. After 
that the star of Foty shone brighter with every day. Many 
people holding high positions in state or society were attracted 
by the fiery speeches, by the ascetic appearance of the archi- 
mandrite, and soon they began to think that Alexander should 
meet him. The candid Golitsyn was one of those who patron- 
ized Foty and who obtained for him an audience at the Palace. 
The first meeting took place on June 17, 1822, and Alexander 
was deeply impressed. In the meantime, Foty became an in- 


timate friend of Count Arakcheyev. While Golitsyn continued 
to favor the self-styled prophet, the "hermit from Gruzino" 
and the fanatic archimandrite came closer and closer together. 
High distinctions were conferred on Foty: Alexander sent him 
a diamond cross, the dowager empress presented him with a 
golden watch, and Prince Golitsyn obtained for him the 
wealthy and important Yuriev monastery in Novgorod, not far 
distant from Gruzino. There Foty planned how to defend the 
Russian Orthodox Church from its imaginary enemies. There 
Count Arakcheyev visited the archimandrite more than once 
and "helped" him to formulate his plans. It was not difficult 
for Arakcheyev to persuade Foty that the true enemy of the 
church was Golitsyn. The benign Minister of Spiritual Affairs 
had never been very orthodox in his Christian beliefs and was 
suspected of being a freemason. This was enough to inflame 
the imagination of the fanatic monk. He needed now only an 
opportunity to discredit the Minister of Spiritual Affairs in 
the eyes of Alexander and the Russian people. 

In May, 1824, on the occasion of a visit by Prince Alexander 
Golitsyn to Foty, the archimandrite pronounced the venerable 
prince "anathema," thus excluding him from the spiritual 
benefits of the church. The news spread quickly. All St. Peters- 
burg lived in breathless expectation. Though Foty was not 
quite sure of the consequences of this bold act, Arakcheyev 
knew that his enemy was crushed. Indeed, three days later, 
Prince Golitsyn was relieved of his duties as Minister of Spiritual 
Affairs and the ministry itself was abolished. 

Foty was jubilant. He wrote to the archimandrite of a 
neighboring monastery: 


Rejoice with me, Very Reverend Father! The evil is 
destroyed, the devil's army is no more; all these atheistic 
societies are suppressed. Our minister now is Our Lord Jesus 
Christ, in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy 
Ghost. Amen. . . . Pray for Arakcheyev: he came like 
Saint George the Victorious to fight for the Holy Church 
and our faith. 

But Foty and his fellow conspirators were soon to find out 
that there was no reason for rejoicing. It was not Jesus Christ 
who became the new minister; it was Arakcheyev. All the 
affairs of the church were to be submitted to him before pres- 
entation to the emperor. Arakcheyev immediately militarized 
the whole church organization. Priests, bishops, archbishops 
and metropolitans did not dare even to protest. They all re- 
gretted the kind Prince Golitsyn. 

Soon after these memorable events a new icon was placed 
in the church of Gruzino facing the memorial to Emperor 
Paul. It represented Our Savior holding the Gospel. The icon 
was covered with heavy silver trimmings. One of these silver 
plates, representing 4 page of the Gospel, could be moved on 
an almost invisible silver bolt disclosing another icon an 
apotheosis of Count Alexis Andreyevich Arakcheyev in a 
general's uniform bedecked with decorations, reclining on 
clouds, as if coming in all his glory to judge the living and the 

Arakcheyev was now supreme. But he did not enjoy the 
fruit of his treachery for long. On September 22, 1825, house- 
hold serfs in Gruzino murdered Arakcheyev's housekeeper, 
Anastasia Minkina. For twenty-five years she had been his 


mistress and companion. For twenty-five years the foremost 
personage in Russia had remained under the spell of a vulgar, 
illiterate, soldierlike female. And for twenty-five years Anas- 
tasia Minkina had terrorized Arakcheyev's serfs. Finally their 
patience had been exhausted. One night, they had gone into 
her bedroom and slit her throat. Two days later, Arakcheyev 
wrote to Alexander: 


The misfortune of losing a faithful friend who had lived 
in my house for twenty-five years has disturbed and 
weakened my health and mind to such an extent that I only 
want to die and look for death to come; and therefore I am 
unable to occupy myself with any affairs. Good-by, Little 
Father, remember your servant who was. Household serfs 
murdered my friend in the night and I do not know where 
to rest my poor head, but I am leaving this place. 

This letter shows the depth of the sorrow that no one had 
ever thought the brutal militarist capable of feeling. At the 
same time, Count Arakcheyev forgot his duty and relieved 
himself of his functions as Commander of the Independent 
Corps of Military Settlements. By a letter, dated September 23, 
he ordered Major General Eiler to take over the military affairs 
of the corps. On the same day he transferred all the civil affairs 
of the military settlements to the Secretary of State, Muravyov. 
Arakcheyev seemed to have forgotten that only the emperor 
had the right to relieve a military commander of his office. On 
this occasion, General Aide-de-Camp Baron Diebich made the 
following remark: 


Of course, no one in the empire, regardless of how high 
his position might be, could ever have acted so lawlessly 
with impunity. But this man has always been an exception 
from the general rule. 

Instead of censure, Count Arakcheyev received a long per- 
sonal letter from Alexander in which the emperor sympathized 
with his "dear friend's loss." After urging him not to despair, 
but to trust in God's mercy, Alexander continued: 

You tell me that you want to leave Gruzino, but that you 
do not know where to go. Come to me. You have no friend 
who loves you more sincerely than I do. The place here is 
quiet. You can live here as you please. And a talk with a 
friend who shares your sorrow will help you. But for God's 
sake do not forget your country, do not forget how useful 
and, I may add, how absolutely necessary your services are 
to it. And my country and I are one. I need you. . . . My 
dear friend, I pity most of all your tender heart. . . . 
Good-by, my dear Alexis Andreyevich, do not desert a 
friend, your faithful friend. 

It was obvious that the hold that Arakcheyev had on Alex- 
ander was not in the least weakened by the former's act of 
insubordination. A few days after sending this letter, Alexander 
wrote another one. In this new message the emperor implored 
Arakcheyev to take care of himself and not to forget to inform 
him about his health by couriers. The letter was signed: "Ever 
thy loving Alexander." 

Such was Alexander's solicitude for the man to whom he 


had entrusted the government of Russia, the "vice-emperor." 
Since the shrewd and unscrupulous Metternich had relieved 
Alexander of his concern for the affairs of Europe, Alexander 
could have shown more interest in the affairs of Russia in- 
stead of abandoning her to a merciless executioner in the person 
of the "faithful friend." Friendship and confidence in the man 
alone are not sufficient to explain such disinterestedness; the 
invisible bonds which had joined Alexander and Arakcheyev 
on June 19, 1810, did not presuppose the surrender of power to 
the "hermit of Gruzino." There must have been some other 
reason. There was. Alexander was tiring of his heavy crown. 



ALEXANDER had not fulfilled the expectations that had heralded 
the opening of his reign. He had deserted the liberalism of La 
Harpe, the statesmanship of Speransky, the wise councils of 
Novossiltsov, Kochubey, Stroganov and Czartoryski only to 
fall into the dark pit of mystic piety wherein he lost his bearings 
and followed the road to reaction instead of the road to liberty. 
When the tragic hour on March 23, 1801, had come and he had 
been forced to decide whether or not to accept the bloodstained 
crown of his father, he had been afraid not to accept it; and he 
was willing to bear the heavy burden of this crown in order to 
better the conditions of life in his country. Now that he had not 
succeeded, now that he really saw no chance to succeed, he was 
ready to face abdication. 

In 1817, while in Kiev, Alexander had visited the venerated 
Monastery of the Caves for a second time. There he had had 
long talks with the hermit fathers. At dinner, on September 20, 
he broke into a conversation about the duties of citizens in- 
cluding crowned heads, saying loudly: 



When anyone has the honor to be at the head of such a 
nation as ours, he has to have the courage to be the first to 
face danger. He must not remain in his place any longer than 
his physical strength will permit him nor, one might say, 
longer than he is able to mount a horse. After this he must 
retire. As for me, I feel well at present, but in ten or fifteen 
years, when I shall be fifty, then , . . 

Two years later, his readiness to abdicate received further 
emphasis in two memorable interviews. 

In the summer of 1819, Alexander reviewed the Second 
Brigade of the First Division of the Imperial Guards com- 
manded by his brother, the Grand Duke Nicholas. The perfect 
alignment, the flowing march of giants, each one over six feet 
in height, the color of their uniforms, their glittering rifles 
and accouterments, the gay fluttering of banners in the warm 
summer air, and above all the able command exercised by his 
brother pleased Alexander. The emperor felt a natural pride 
because it was he who had trained his brother, who day after 
day had spent hours in teaching him and the youngest of the 
family, the Grand Duke Michael, those elements of military 
command which do not serve as very effective weapons in war 
time but are so spectacular when displayed on a parade ground. 
Now he was able to view with pride the fruits of his painstaking 
efforts. No wonder that he was exceptionally amiable with 
his brother and the latter's wife, the Grand Duchess Alexandra 
when, after the review was over, they dined together. Sud- 
denly, in the midst of a most friendly and animated conver- 
sation, Alexander changed his whimsical tone to one of extreme 
seriousness and said that he was doubly pleased with the success 


of the grand duke because the day would come when Nicholas 
would have to assume a much heavier burden than that of a 
brigadier general, for he was considering him as his successor 
and that the succession would come about much sooner than 
anyone anticipated; it would happen while he was still living. 
The grand duchess wrote in her diary: 

The emperor continued: "You seem to be surprised, but 
you must know that my brother Constantine, having never 
cared much about the throne, has now firmly decided to 
renounce officially his right of succession in favor of his 
younger brother Nicholas and of his descendants. As for 
myself, I have decided to free myself from my present obli- 
gations and to retire from this sort of life. More than ever, 
Europe needs young monarchs, strong and energetic, and I 
am no longer what I was. Therefore, I deem it my duty to 
retire in time." Seeing that we were almost in tears, he tried 
to comfort us by saying that this would not take place im- 
mediately, that still a few years would go by before he would 
be able to realize his plan. Then he left us. One can imagine 
the state we were in. We had never even dreamed of such a 
possibility. It was as though we had been struck by lightning. 
This was a memorable moment in our lives. 

In the autumn of the same year, Alexander visited Warsaw. 
He was accompanied for a short part of the return journey by 
his brother Constantine, still commander in chief of the troops 
in Poland. During this drive together Alexander said to his 
brother: "I must tell you, brother, that I want to abdicate; I 
am tired and I have no more the strength to carry the burden of 


government. I tell you in advance so that you may decide what 
to do under these circumstances." 

The grand duke replied: "In this event I shall ask for my- 
self the position of your second valet. I will serve you and I 
will, if necessary, clean your boots. If I were to do it at present, 
people would term it vileness on my part, but when you will 
no longer be on the throne, then I shall be able to show my 
faithfulness to you, my benefactor." 

"When I had spoken these words," Constantine Pavlovich 
related, "the Emperor kissed me more heartily than he had ever 
done before during all the forty-five years of our life." Alex- 
ander closed this conversation by saying: "When the time to 
abdicate comes, I shall let you know and you will then inform 
mother." On this the two brothers parted. 

These two revelations make the year 1819 a memorable one 
in Alexander's life. They were prompted, most probably, by 
the death on January 9 of the same year of the Grand Duchess 
Catherine, then queen of Wiirttemberg, after a short illness. 
The death of that beloved sister affected Alexander deeply. The 
dear Bissiam was gone! What a turmoil of thoughts must have 
gripped Alexander at the recollection of all the years during 
which Catherine had occupied such a prominent place in his 
heart. Was it not a warning? To die in sin was to lose one's 
future felicity. Was the sum total of earthly pleasures worth 
that? The short illness which had carried Bissiam Bissiamovna 
to her premature death might occur in anyone's life in his 
own. Would he be able to face death unprepared? Could he 
ever expiate his sins whilst crowned, whilst wearing the purple? 
Obviously not. The one way to save his immortal soul would 
be to free himself from all those obligations that weighed so 


heavily on his stooping shoulders and from those dreadful bonds 
that make a human being a slave, a prisoner of a principle. 

Alexander the Blessed, By the Grace of God, Emperor and 
Autocrat of All the Russias wanted to free himself from those 
magnificent, but ever so heavy, chains which he had borne 
stoically through almost twenty years. Still he could not do it 
at once. Were he to abdicate, he would still remain a former 
emperor in the eyes of the people. His youthful dream to re- 
tire and live the simple life of an ordinary citizen "somewhere 
on the Rhine" could not be carried out now. This was not his 
aim; he needed an escape. He must wait for a propitious moment 
when he could disappear, when he could continue to live un- 
observed, unknown. 

On January 24, 1824, Alexander became seriously ill. High 
temperature, a severe headache and nausea were the signs by 
which the doctors decided that he had "glowing fever." A 
few days later they also discovered erysipelas in his left leg, 
where he had been kicked by a horse, which for a time had en- 
dangered his thigh bone. Alexander was ill for over two months. 
The suddenness and the seriousness of this illness must have 
made him think once more of his decision. This time, however, 
he must have felt that circumstances were pressing. 

Alexander had never shirked responsibilities. To him the 
performance of his duty was paramount and he demonstrated 
this when death robbed him of his beloved daughter Sophie 
Naryshkin. In June, 1824, the regiments of the Guards had 
entered their summer quarters at Krasnoye Selo. Alexander, 
though not completely recovered from his recent illness, had 
left his residence in Tsarskoye Selo and joined the troops. 
Sophie was critically ill, suffering from tuberculosis. The em- 


peror had received, every day, a bulletin of her health by special 
courier. On June 23, Alexander was to review the Guards' 
Artillery. On that particular morning, the courier brought the 
sad news of Sophie's death and handed the dispatch to Prince 
Peter Volkonsky. All the generals of the Guards were as- 
sembled in the palace, awaiting the emperor in order to ac- 
company him for the review. Sir James Wylie and Dr. Tarasov 
were also present. Tarasov was awaiting a summons to the 
emperor's room to change the bandage on Alexander's leg. 
Upon the receipt of the dispatch Prince Volkonsky approached 
Wylie, and whispered into his ear the bad news, asking him to 
break it to the emperor. At first the English physician refused, 
but he was persuaded by Volkonsky to accept this painful 

Tarasov entered Alexander's room and was told by the em- 
peror to hasten the dressing as he was already late. While Tara- 
sov busied himself with the emperor's leg, Volkonsky and 
Wylie entered the room. Sir James had come close to the em- 
peror, inspected his leg and said in French: "Everything is all 
right." During this time Prince Volkonsky remained near the 
door, silent. Alexander cast a quick glance at him and became 
alarmed. "What is the news?" he asked. Volkonsky dropped 
his head, but did not answer. Then turning to Wylie, Alex- 
ander repeated his question in English. Sir James answered: 
"It is the end: she is no more." Tarasov had just finished his 
task when he saw that the emperor was silently shedding tears. 
He wept so profusely that he had to change his shirt, the front 
of which had been drenched with tears. Thereupon Volkonsky, 
Wylie, and Tarasov left the room. It seemed to them that the 
emperor would not be able to review the troops that day. How- 


ever, a quarter of an hour later, Alexander appeared in the 
waiting room and after greeting his generals mounted his horse 
and galloped toward the aligned regiments. 

Nothing revealed to the assembled men what was going on 
in Alexander's heart. No one except Volkonsky, Wylie, and 
Tarasov knew of the sad news. The emperor performed his 
duties admirably. He was amiable as usual, questioned his 
generals, commented on their answers, greeted the men. Then 
he stood and watched his soldiers march past him. Their heavy 
tread reverberated like distant thunder. They marched past him 
as they had done many times before going into battle. Many of 
them wore medals. Medals purchased with blood. They had 
no families and looked upon their emperor as their father. He 
did not, he could not disappoint them although his own heart 
was bleeding, although his own child was no more. "Long 
live the emperor!" Alexander smiled. Alexander waved his 
plumed hat. The review was over. 

After thanking his generals, Alexander returned to the 
palace. There he quickly changed from his dress uniform to a 
simpler one, jumped into an open carriage drawn by four horses 
and ordered his coachman to go at full speed to Naryshkin's 
home whose threshold he had not crossed for ten years. He 
returned to Krasnoye Selo in the afternoon, silent, tired, an aged 
man. His carriage was now drawn only by two horses, the other 
two having fallen on the road from exhaustion. He did not 
dine that evening, but locked himself in his study and spent the 
whole night without sleep. He had done his duty, the duty that 
.service demands. 

The loss of his sister, Catherine, in 1819 and now of his 
beloved child robbed Alexander of the last ties with this world. 


He was becoming more restless than ever and sought f orget- 
f ulness in continuous travels. All the time he was looking for the 
opportunity to find an escape from that narrow circle of life 
in which he, an emperor, felt himself a prisoner. Finally that 
ardently desired opportunity came. 

At 3:30 A.M. on the night of September 13, 1825, a lonely 
figure descended the front steps of the white palace on Ka- 
menny Ostrov. Clad in a simple green uniform and a military 
cap with a coat thrown over his shoulders, Alexander stepped 
quickly into the waiting open carriage drawn by three horses. 
Through the deserted and silent streets of the sleeping town 
Ilia, the emperor's personal coachman, drove the open carriage 
to the monastery of St. Alexander Nevsky, reaching it at 
4: 1 5 A.M. Met at the entrance of the cathedral by the Metro- 
politan Seraphim, the clergy and all the monks, Alexander 
alighted swiftly, kissed the crucifix and after being sprinkled 
with holy water, received the benediction of the metropolitan. 
He then entered the cathedral and ordered the doors to be 

Once in the cathedral the emperor went straight to the cas- 
ket of St. Alexander Nevsky, his patron saint, and stood before 
it as the Te Deum began. He seemed to be completely under 
the spell of religious emotion, praying devoutly, and yet there 
was in his eyes a curious expression of determination and even 
of victory, reflecting a strange inner light which filled his light 
blue eyes with extraordinary animation. When the Te Deum 
came to an end, the emperor prostrated himself, 
relics of the saint, kissed his image and bade 
were present. 

Upon leaving the cathedral, Alexanderi 


politan's quarters. There he entrusted to Seraphim a sealed 
package to be delivered to his successor on the throne of Russia. 
It contained the documents relative to the change in line of 
succession brought about by the Grand Duke Constantino's re- 
nunciation of his rights to the throne. 1 

When Alexander stepped into his carriage, his eyes were 
filled with tears. Before departing, he asked the metropolitan 
who stood surrounded by the clergy and monks: "Pray for me 
and for my wife." He remained bareheaded until the gates of 
the monastery were reached. On his way he often turned back, 
bowed and crossed himself, looking all the while at the cathe- 
dral where on the large stone steps the gorgeous sacerdotal 
garments of the metropolitan, the clergy, and the dark mass of 
monks clad in black formed a picture full of brilliancy and 
contrast, of light and of shadow. When he reached the barrier, 
Alexander ordered his coachman, Ilia, to stop. He stood up in 
the open carriage and contemplated the town for a long time as 
if bidding it a last good-by. There lay his capital, which had 
witnessed glory and decadence, triumph and downfall, which 
had been filled with terror and with jubilant shouts of praise. 

Twenty-five years before, there had stood another man at 
this barrier, who watched the clouds and waited for the sun to 
rise. That man had been patient; in time he had gotten what he 
wanted. Decidedly, Count Arakcheyev was stronger than Alex- 
ander. Count Arakcheyev ruled Russia while Alexander only 
played his role. Now Alexander was leaving the stage, for good. 
With a deep sigh the emperor sat back in the carriage and said 
to Ilia: "Go with God!" And a lonely traveler was sped down 
the road leading south to Taganrog. 

1 A similar package had been left with the President of the Senate, Lopukhin. 


The journey to Taganrog, a small town on the shores of the 
Azov Sea in southern Russia, was undertaken for the sake of 
Empress Elisabeth Alexeyevna who, the council of physicians 
had recommended, should spend the winter in a more temperate 
climate than that of St. Petersburg. The choice of Taganrog 
was made by Alexander himself for reasons of his own, for in 
the medical men's recommendation that place was not indicated, 
the recommendation containing simply the mention of Italy, 
the south of France, or southern Russia. The choice of Tagan- 
rog was a curious one, for the town was known for its fierce 
northeast winds and storms in winter and was not at all an 
appropriate place for a person needing a temperate, even a mild, 
climate. However, Taganrog suited Alexander's plans, so the 
choice was made. 

Alexander remembered this city, having visited it in May, 
1818, and readily brushed aside all objections to his choice. To 
the remark that the only house available for his residence in 
Taganrog was much too modest to accommodate the emperor, 
he made an enigmatic reply: "It is necessary that the passage 
to private life should not be too abrupt." And, as soon as the 
journey was decided upon, Alexander displayed feverish activ- 
ity. He countermanded the review of troops of the Second 
Army which had been gathered especially for this purpose at 
Belaya Tserkov; he ordered his personal friend, Prince Peter 
Volkonsky, to accompany the empress, notwithstanding the 
fact that the prince had just returned from Paris where he had 
assisted at the coronation of King Charles X; he personally 
worked out the itinerary and noted in a little book the exact 
route and the schedule to be followed. In planning the route, 
he took especial care to avoid Moscow and all large cities, giving 


strict orders that there should be no receptions, parades, reviews 
of troops or any ceremony whatsoever. Finally, when every- 
thing was ready, he set the date of his departure for September 
13 and that of Empress Elisabeth for September 16. 

A few days before his departure, Alexander asked Prince 
Golitsyn to put his private papers in order. Notwithstanding 
the abrupt ending of Golitsyn's career the year before, Alex- 
ander turned to him for this intimate task, because he felt that 
he could trust his life-long friend and adviser. During this 
work Golitsyn asked Alexander whether it was not unwise 
in view of his departure to conceal any longer the arrangements 
concerning the succession to the throne. To this the emperor 
gave the following reply: "Let us commend ourselves to the 
will of God; He shall dispose of things much better than we 
poor mortals could ever do." 

What reason prompted Golitsyn to ask such a question? 
Alexander had traveled all his life and the some fifteen hundred 
miles separating St. Petersburg from Taganrog were really 
no great distance for him. Why should this particular journey 
have provoked Golitsyn to touch upon such a disturbing topic? 
Probably no other reason than that Golitsyn knew of Alex- 
ander's plan as well as the fact that it was Nicholas and not 
Constantine who was to succeed Alexander as Emperor and 
Autocrat of All the Russias. 

Alexander's journey to Taganrog was uneventful. He had 
always liked rapid transportation and this time, too, hurried 
south as if his very life depended upon his reaching the goal in 
time. He seldom stopped even to spend the night, preferring to 
sleep in his carriage while moving along the road. But at every 


station marked on the schedule, he inspected in detail the ac- 
commodations prepared for the passage of Empress Elisabeth, 

He arrived in Taganrog on September 2 5, true to his schedule. 
On October 5, he was joined by Empress Elisabeth. 

The house chosen for Their Majesties' stay in Taganrog was 
a one-story stone building, very simple in line, containing a 
basement for the accommodation of servants. That part of 
the house reserved for Empress Elisabeth contained eight small 
rooms, two of which were to be occupied by the ladies in wait- 
ing. The center of the house formed a large hall which was to 
serve as reception and dining room. A small chapel was arranged 
in the empress' apartment. The other half of the house con- 
tained two rooms to be occupied by Alexander. One of them, 
a bright spacious room, was the emperor's study which was to 
serve also as his bedroom. The other was small, of semicircular 
shape, with one window opening onto the yard. This was to 
serve as the emperor's dressing room. A corridor between the 
rooms would accommodate the valet on duty. The estate con- 
tained a large yard and a small park with fruit trees. The fur- 
nishings of the house were of the very simplest kind. 

At the beginning of his stay in Taganrog, Alexander seemed 
to be perfectly pleased with his choice of the place. Every day 
he took the empress out into the garden and walked with her 
up and down the alleys and paths. Perfect peace reigned at 
last between these two who had been so unhappy in their mar- 
ried life. Later in the day Alexander would go out and walk 
about the town, alone, as he had done during the first years of 
his reign. But this idyll did not last long. Alexander was soon 
overcome by his mania for traveling and first went into the 


region of the Cossacks of the Don, where he spent five days 
from October 23 to October 27. After this he prepared for a 
longer journey to the Crimea. 

He left Taganrog on November i. The journey delighted 
him. Really he had never been as happy as when rushing from 
one place to another. At this time Alexander was in exception- 
ally good spirits. After visiting Mariupol, the Mennonite col- 
onies on the river Molochnaia, Simferopol, Gursuf , he stopped 
at Oreanda, an estate which he had recently purchased. He 
could not find enough words of praise to express his delight 
over this place. He walked around the beautiful gardens with 
Prince Volkonsky, then suddenly turned to him and said: "I 
shall soon settle down here to live the rest of my life as a private 
citizen. I have served for twenty-five years and even a simple 
soldier can retire after that much service. 2 You too will retire 
from service and be my librarian." 

Deeply moved, Prince Volkonsky fell to his knees and said: 
"Wherever you go, sire, I will follow you." 

It would seem that Alexander had made up his mind in Janu- 
ary that time was pressing, for in that month he had told his 
brother-in-law, the Prince of Orange, that he intended to ab- 
dicate soon and to live his own life at last. When the heir to the 
throne of Holland had protested, he merely told him not to 
divulge the secret as yet. And there, in Oreanda, he confirmed 
to Prince Volkonsky what had always been his dream and what 
had now become a firm and irrevocable decision. 

From Oreanda, Alexander went to Alupka where he visited 
Count Vorontsov. From there he went on horseback to Baidary. 

2 A soldier in the Russian army during Alexander's time served for twenty- 
five years. 


He countermanded the dinner that was awaiting him in Sevas- 
topol and went to Balaklava. From Balaklava he traveled in an 
open carriage to that point where the road makes a turn to the 
monastery of St. George. There he mounted a horse, sent his 
entourage to Sevastopol and, taking only a cabinet courier with 
him, went to the monastery. This took place on November 8, 
at 6 P.M. Alexander did not wear an overcoat, because the day 
had been very warm, but when night fell a strong northeast 
wind brought almost freezing temperature. When the emperor 
returned to Sevastopol he felt shivery, refused to dine and took 
only a hot cup of tea, obviously having caught a cold in the 
mountains. This seems to have been the turning point in his last 
days as emperor. The different accounts that we possess of 
Alexander's journey in the Crimea and of his last days in Tagan- 
rog are contradictory to such an extent that it is almost im- 
possible to follow them clearly unless one adopts as evident that 
the official records did not tell the truth. The most reliable ac- 
count is to be found in the recollections of Dr. Dimitry Tara- 
sov, court physician, and the description of the events to follow 
is based mainly on his story. 

The day of November 9 was spent by the emperor in in- 
specting the fortifications, the hospital, the arsenal, in passing 
in review the fleet. Later the emperor gave a big dinner and 
nothing disturbing could be noticed in the state of his health. 
The next day Alexander crossed the Bay of Sevastopol and, 
after inspecting the fortifications on the north coast, went in 
an open carriage to Bakhchisaray where he stayed in the Khan 
Palace, as in 1 8 1 8. There he had asked Tarasov to prepare for 
him a rice potion similar to that which he had taken in 1824 
when he had suffered from fever and an inflammation of his leg. 


Tarasov carried out the order immediately and deemed it his 
duty to let Wylie know that the emperor had a slight gastric 
disturbance. However, Alexander did not complain of any 
illness either to Tarasov or to Wylie. He did not take any rest, 
but spent the whole day in visiting places in the vicinity of 
Bakhchisaray, obviously in good spirits. He conversed with 
everyone in his usual charming manner. 

On November 1 3, he went to Eupatoria where he spent the 
night after having visited churches, mosques, synagogues, 
arsenals and quarantines. The next day he proceeded to Perekop 
where he visited the hospital. Early in the morning of No- 
vember 15, he continued his journey according to his itinerary 
and, in the village Znamenskoye, passed in review a brigade of 
artillery, visited the local hospital, where he had his meal and 
was very well satisfied with the food, especially with a barley 
soup of which he took more than one helping. Since leaving 
Bakhchisaray where Alexander had ordered the rice potion, 
he seems to have been in perfect health and did not complain 
of anything either to Tarasov or to Wylie. 

That same day, at the last station before Orekhovo, where 
he was to spend the night, Alexander met the courier Maskov, 
who had brought papers from St. Petersburg and Moscow. 
Having received the papers, Alexander ordered Maskov to 
accompany him to Taganrog. On the road to Orekhovo a 
serious accident occurred. Maskov's coachman let his horses go 
too fast and at a sharp turn of the road the courier's carriage 
overturned. Maskov fell to the ground and remained motion- 
less. Alexander immediately ordered Tarasov to take care of 
the wounded and to report to him personally about Maskov's 
condition in Orekhovo. 


It was after midnight when Tarasov arrived in Orekhovo. 
General Diebich was still awaiting him and told him to go 
immediately to the emperor who was anxious to hear about 
the wounded courier. Tarasov proceeded to the emperor's 
apartment. He described his visit in the following dramatic 

After the valet had announced my arrival, I entered the 
emperor's bedroom. His Majesty sat near an open fire, 
his shoulders covered with a coat, reading some papers. I 
noticed that the emperor looked worried and that he was 
trying to warm himself by the open fireside. As soon as I 
stepped into the room he asked me hastily: "How is Mas- 
kov?" "He received in his fall a heavy blow on the head 
that provoked a cerebral concussion and a large fracture at 
the base of the skull; when I reached him I saw that he had 
stopped breathing and that all medical help was already use- 
less." Having listened to my report the emperor stood up 
and said in tears: "What a terrible thing! How I pity this 
man!" Then turning to the table he rang the bell. On this 
I left the room. I could not fail to notice an extraordinary 
expression on his face, a face which I knew well, having 
studied it for so many years; his face revealed I do not know 
what of hidden excitement and the emperor was shaken by 
a nervous chill. 

The next day, November 16, Alexander reached Mariupol 
at seven o'clock in the evening. At ten o'clock he asked for 
Wylie, who found that he was suffering from a paroxysm of 
fever. Sir James displayed unusual anxiety and recommended 


that the emperor remain in Mariupol for some time, but Alex- 
ander refused saying that he had promised the empress to be 
back the next day. So at 10 A.M. on November 17, wrapped 
in a warm overcoat, his feet covered with a bear skin, Alexander 
left Mariupol in a closed coach. He arrived in Taganrog the 
same day at 7 P.M. 

And the body of courier Maskov followed him at a little 



THE LAST two weeks that Emperor Alexander spent in Tagan- 
rog, before his official death, have been recorded in the diaries 
of Empress Elisabeth, Prince Peter Volkonsky, Sir James 
Wylie, Dr. Dimitry Tarasov, and in an unsigned manu- 
script entitled "Official History of the Illness and Death of 
Emperor Alexander I." We possess also the recollections of 
some of the emperor's servants, especially those of his valets, 
Anisimov and Fyodorov, but they do not contain a day-by- 
day record of events and very often give way to the temptation 
of recalling stories based upon hearsay and therefore of no 
historical value. Prince Peter Volkonsky kept a day-by-day 
record and his description is the most complete if not always the 
most accurate. However, as a whole, the four principal wit- 
nesses have left us four different stories full of the most ob- 
vious contradictions. This state of affairs can be explained 
only by two suppositions: ( i ) that they had to write something 
about Alexander's illness in view of the emperor's determina- 
tion to use it as a means of escape and, obviously, did not 
arrange among themselves all the details of their narratives; and 


(2) that some of these diaries, and especially Volkonsky's, were 
written post factum. 

On the morning of November 1 8, Prince Volkonsky notes 
that the emperor had just spent a good night. Wylie on the 
other hand writes: "The night from the seventeenth to the 
eighteenth was bad. I am afraid that it may all turn for the 
worse." In his description of the day of November 1 8, Volkon- 
sky states that Wylie and he had to interrupt their dinner at 
3:00 P.M. because the emperor felt feverish. He tells us that 
they went together to the emperor's room and remained there. 
This is contradicted by the empress who writes that Wylie 
was alone in Alexander's room and that she herself went in 
later, not mentioning Volkonsky at all, while the latter omits 
to note the presence of Empress Elisabeth. Then, too, Vol- 
konsky writes: "At seven o'clock in the evening the emperor 
thanked Wylie who left his room. Later came the empress 
and stayed until ten o'clock" * 

Empress Elisabeth contradicts this statement by saying: "I 
had been with the emperor until seven o'clock and then re- 
turned to my apartment. He slept all evening and did not call 
for me" On November 19, Volkonsky writes: "The emperor 
has spent a good night. In the morning at about eight o'clock 
he got up and dressed as usual. About 1 1 :oo A.M. he took a lax- 
ative and felt relieved, but toward the evening his temperature 
rose again because he refused to take any more medicine" 

For this day, the empress gives many more details, while 
Volkonsky's diary contains only the short statement mentioned 
above. The empress writes: "He had come to my apartment 
between 1 1 :oo and 1 2:00 A.M. and told me that he was feeling 

1 All italics in the diaries are the editor's, not those of the original writer. 


much better ... He was still looking rather yellow, but was 
much happier. We busied ourselves in sorting sea shells that I 
had gathered. I begged him not to work too much as he had 
done the day before, to which he answered that work with 
him was a habit, that when he did not work he felt that his 
head was empty and that if he abdicated he would devour 
entire libraries, because otherwise he would go insane." 

The empress further relates that she dined that day with 
Alexander and after dinner he visited her again. Toward 7:00 
P.M. she was called to the emperor. She found him lying on a 
couch clad in a dressing gown. He told her that he had taken 
his medicine which had acted so violently that it had caused 
cramps, but that Wylie had given him some tea which had re- 
lieved the pain. He said that he was feeling fine. He talked 
with great animation and laughed heartily. Volkonsky and 
Wylie went in at nine o'clock. Wylie asked the emperor how 
he was feeling. Alexander answered smilingly: "Fine!" 

Wylie's notes are a complete contradiction of the long and 
detailed description of Empress Elisabeth. He writes: "The 
emperor is apathetic. Spells of vertigo and attacks of fever 
repeat themselves too often. I dare not declare that it is 
hemitritacus sermtertiana, although everything seems to in- 
dicate that it is." 

On November 20, the empress, Volkonsky and Wylie all 
state that Alexander's health was satisfactory. Only the anon- 
ymous author of "The Official History of the Illness and Death 
of Emperor Alexander I" comes out with an alarming state- 
ment: "He is so ill that Doctor Stoffregen has been called to 
his bedside." This statement is very strange not only because 
it contradicts the previous three but also and especially because 


it mentions Stoffregen, court physician to the empress. Alex- 
ander had his own two medical men Wylie and Tarasov, in 
both of whom he placed great faith. Were there need for the 
opinion or help of another physician, would it not have been 
more natural to call for Tarasov, who had attended the em- 
peror for so many years but had not been called to his bedside 
since his return to Taganrog, than to call in Dr. Stoffregen? 
And if Stoffregen had really been called to Alexander's bedside, 
would the empress and Volkonsky not have mentioned this 
fact in their detailed description of that day? 

The date of November 20 contains also an important state- 
ment in Volkonsky's diary. He relates that the emperor wrote 
a letter to St. Petersburg addressed to his mother, the Dowager 
Empress Maria Fyodorovna, and ordered this letter to be ante- 
dated by two days, forbidding everyone to write to the capital 
about his illness. To this Volkonsky remarked that it would be 
better to tell the truth because some of the townspeople might 
write and exaggerate the real situation. This is particularly 
astounding when one recalls that Alexander had returned to 
Taganrog only three days before and that nothing alarming 
could have been said about his state of health, since he arose and 
dressed every morning at eight o'clock, as usual, receiving 
couriers, listening to the daily reports of General Diebich, 
moving around the house, suffering apparently only from a 
slight indisposition. 

The next day, November 21, the empress writes: "The night 
was satisfactory and, although perspiration continued, the em- 
peror felt better and spent the day without any further change 
in his health ... As another courier was leaving this day for 
St. Petersburg, the emperor asked me to write about his illness 


to the dowager empress and ordered General Aide-de-Camp 
Diebich to inform the Grand Duke Constantine, in Warsaw, 
that after his return from the Crimea, where he had contracted 
a slight fever, he had been compelled to remain in his room." 

Prince Volkonsky mentions the same fact, but adds in the 
margin: "This order to General Diebich was given not on the 
2ist but on the 2 3rd." Wylie states also that there was an 
amelioration in the condition of the emperor's health. 

It is important to note the emperor's sudden decision to 
inform Constantine, then still considered heir to the throne 
notwithstanding the fact that he had formally renounced his 
rights long before, and this announcement to Constantine was 
to be made through the medium of a third person while the 
letter to his mother, though written by the empress, was signed 
by Alexander himself. This was in accordance with what he 
told his brother in Warsaw some time before: "When the 
time to abdicate will come, I shall let you know and you will 
inform mother of your decision." It seems evident that the 
Dowager Empress Maria Fyodorovna served as an intermediary 
in the secret correspondence between her two sons concerning 
the question of their mutual abdication. 

Up to November 22 the statements of the witnesses were 
noticeably contradictory, but those describing that day are 
most peculiarly so. The empress writes that on that day Alex- 
ander fainted in the morning, but that in the afternoon he was 
feeling very well and conversed animatedly with her until 
evening. Volkonsky states, however, that all through the day 
the emperor felt badly, that toward the evening he was com- 
pletely prostrated and hardly spoke during the whole day, and 
Wylie makes an extraordinary statement under this same date. 


He writes: "I notice that since November 20 the emperor is 
preoccupied with something other than his health. These 
thoughts seem to dominate him completely." 

But it is the next day, November 23, which seems to be the 
most important of all. This date decidedly marks the turning 
point in Alexander's last days as ruler of the Russian empire. 
Both Volkonsky and Empress Elisabeth note distinct amel- 
ioration in the condition of the emperor's health. Wylie still 
expresses his grave concern while the empress contradicts him 
when writing: "About five o'clock in the afternoon I asked 
Wylie to come to see me and to tell me how things were. Wylie 
was jovial and told me that although the emperor still had some 
fever, I should go to see him, because he was distinctly better." 

The empress spent the whole evening with Alexander and 
later wrote a letter to her mother in which she exclaimed: 
"Where can one find refuge from this life? When one thinks 
that one has arranged everything for the best and is able to 
enjoy it, a new and unexpected trial arises which upsets all 
one's plans and takes away the faculty of enjoying the fruit of 
so much effort." 

Is not this mysterious outcry of despair in contradiction to 
Elisabeth's statement in her diary? And is it not strange that 
her diary ends under this date? What could be the reasons for 
all this? What other explanation could one find than that 
the emperor had told Elisabeth that very evening that the fulfill- 
ment of his decision was near and had asked her to help him to 
carry it out? Did Elisabeth then find that there was no reason to 
continue her diary, since she knew that what was going to take 
place was merely stage play? Or did she continue to write 
and was the rest of her diary destroyed? 


This possibility is quite admissible because Alexander's 
brother and successor, Emperor Nicholas I, destroyed the diary 
kept by his mother, Empress Maria Fyodorovna, and in general 
"liked to destroy many things having any connection with his 
brother," according to a statement made by the well-known 
Russian historian, the Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich in 
a letter to Prince Vladimir Bariatinsky. One thing is quite clear: 
something must have happened in the course of the evening of 
November 23 to make Empress Elisabeth write to her mother 
as she did. And the only thing that could have happened was 
Alexander's announcement of the imminent fulfillment of his 
decision, of which he had spoken earlier to Elisabeth during 
their stay in Taganrog. 

On November 24, one finds another contradiction between 
the statement of Prince Volkonsky and that of "The Official 
History." Volkonsky writes: "Toward evening the emperor 
felt better" while the anonymous author states: "Toward the 
evening the emperor felt 'worse. 9 ' On November 25, Volkon- 
sky, Wylie, and the anonymous author concur in their opinion 
that the situation is hopeful for the first time. On November 26, 
Wylie makes the following important statement: "The situ- 
ation is critical ... I wanted to give him some medicine, 
but the emperor refused saying, 'Go away!' Then, when he 
saw that I was crying, he said, 'Well, dear friend, I hope that 
you do not mind. / have reasons of my own? " 

The same day at about nine o'clock in the evening, Dr. 
Tarasov was called to the emperor for the first time since the 
latter's return to Taganrog. Tarasov spent over an hour alone 
with Alexander. When he left, Alexander went to sleep and 
spent a good night. Of what did they converse? And what 


had Tarasov been doing during all these days since their re- 
turn from the Crimea? 

The night was pitch dark when the body of courier Maskov 
arrived in Taganrog. The small town was fast asleep. Tarasov, 
who had been waiting at the entrance to the town, gave orders 
to take the body to his house where he was to perform the 
autopsy. Soon the body lay naked on a table in a back room of 
the house occupied by the court physician, and Tarasov began 
to perform his duty. He could not help admiring the perfect 
form of the deceased courier and must have compared it with 
that of the emperor. No doubt if the face were hidden the body 
could easily be taken for that of Alexander himself. Tarasov 
also noticed that Maskov's right leg bore a scar, probably from 
an old wound. He must have thought: "What a pity it is not 
the left leg." The emperor's scar as a result of a horse's kick 
was on his left leg. 

Through the remainder of the night Tarasov busied him- 
self with the dead body. But if anyone could have spied upon 
him, he would have been astounded by the discovery that it 
was not an autopsy that the surgeon was performing. Tarasov 
was embalming the body of courier Maskov. This work con- 
tinued for two more days and nights until the corpse was well 
preserved from decay. Then Tarasov waited to be called to 
the emperor in order to announce to him that he could then 
"die" safely. He took this news to Alexander in the evening 
of November 26. Five days earlier, a simple ceremony had 
taken place at the local cemetery. Courier Maskov was buried 
with military honors. There were few people present besides 
a detachment of infantry, because Maskov's family lived too 
far away to be able to come to the funeral. When the grave 


was closed, the officer commanding the detachment of infantry 
had deposited on the small mound a large wreath, bearing the 
imperial crown and Alexander's initials. This attention on the 
part of the emperor had touched the hearts of the officers and 
soldiers who were present at the funeral ceremony. But what 
would they have thought if they had known that the casket 
supposed to contain the body of courier Maskov was empty? 
The days immediately following November 26 precipitated 
the crisis. Everything seemed ready for the passing of Em- 
peror Alexander into another world. The accounts of the 
witnesses continue, however, to be as contradictory as before. 
On November 29, Prince Volkonsky states that the end was 
approaching, the emperor remaining fully prostrated. Tarasov, 
too, remarks that the illness had reached its paroxysm. And 
Wylie makes a remarkable revelation. He writes: "Things are 
getting worse and worse. Prince Volkonsky has been occupying 
my bed in order to be nearer to the emperor." This is the most 
significant statement of all that had previously been made by 
the court physician. It is hardly conceivable that at a time of 
extreme danger, such as was revealed by the records, it should 
be a personal friend of the emperor who would occupy the 
nearest place to Alexander's bedroom instead of his own 
physician. One can understand, however, that in order to carry 
out his plans it was more important for Alexander to have 
near him not Wylie but Volkonsky. On November 30, the 
witnesses indulge in their usual contradictions. However, they 
all state that the situation was so critical that one could expect 
the worst. Wylie writes more plainly than the others: "No 
hope to save our beloved sovereign. I hastened to inform the 
empress as well as Prince Volkonsky and Baron Diebich." 


Then came the night, the last night in the life of Emperor 
Alexander I. Contrary to the rule, it was Tarasov who was on 
duty in Alexander's bedroom. Prince Volkonsky occupied the 
bed in the corridor between Alexander's bedroom and dressing 
room. There were, therefore, no other persons besides Volkon- 
sky and Tarasov in the emperor's apartment during the night 
of November 30-December i. Diebich and Wylie remained 
in the basement with the servants. It was around midnight 
that Tarasov left the emperor's room and went to see Prince 
Volkonsky. The prince was ready. They cautiously went to 
the door leading into the courtyard, opened it, and waited. 
Soon they saw four men carrying something heavy that looked 
at first glance like a coffin. It was, however, a bathtub. The 
four men deposited their burden in the emperor's dressing room 
and went away. Volkonsky followed them to the door and 
told them to return in an hour in order to take the bathtub back. 
In the meanwhile, Tarasov removed a linen sheet covering the 
bathtub and revealed the body of courier Maskov. An hour 
later, the four men came back and carried the bathtub away. 
Little did they suspect that they were then carrying their 
master, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias! And on the 
emperor's bed reposed, calm and serene, the unfortunate cour- 
ier Maskov, whose accidental death had made his emperor's 
escape possible. 

The morning of December i was gray and somber. The 
space before the emperor's residence was crowded. People who 
had attended the early Mass offered for the recovery of His Im- 
perial Majesty went straight from church to the emperor's resi- 
dence in order to get the latest news about their master's illness. 
No one except the empress and Prince Volkonsky had been in 


the emperor's room since dawn. Tarasov had left the house 
early in the morning in order to obtain a little rest after his 
sleepless night on duty. At 10:50 A.M., the news of the emper- 
or's death reached the crowd. Soon after, the mournful ringing 
of church bells announced the sad tidings to the whole city. 

During the whole day of December i, no one but those of 
the emperor's closest entourage was permitted to enter Alex- 
ander's bedroom. The same precautions were taken the follow- 
ing day. In the evening of December 2, the body was placed in 
the emperor's dressing room and Wylie together with Stof- 
fregen began to make preparations for embalming it. Tarasov 
refused to assist his colleagues in this part of their duty, 
probably because he felt that he had already done more than 
his share and did not care to be involved any further. During 
the entire process of embalming the body its face was kept 
constantly covered so that not one of Wylie's and Stoffregen's 
attendants saw it. This continued all through the night and on 
the following day the body, dressed in a general's uniform, was 
viewed by the awe-struck people. But the face was already un- 

There is a strange mystery about the autopsy of the body. 
Wylie has declared that he performed it and described its 
results in a proces-verbal which, as an official document, bore 
the signatures of nine people including also that of Tarasov. 
However, Tarasov assures us that, though it was he who com- 
posed the document, he did not sign it. Such contradictions 
in the statements of as important personages as Wylie and Tara- 
sov can lead only to an obvious conclusion, if one bears in mind 
the part played by Tarasov since Alexander's return to Tagan- 
rog after his Crimean journey. This conclusion can be nothing 


but that the document in question described the autopsy of 
courier Maskov and not that of Emperor Alexander. And it is 
confirmed by the statement that the body had a scar on its right 


The empress did not remain in the same house where the 
body lay in state. She had moved in the morning of December i 
to a near-by house belonging to some people by the name of 
Shikhmatov, who had been prepared to receive her on the day 
before, when they were told by Prince Volkonsky to have 
quarters ready for the empress. This indicates that Volkonsky 
knew of the forthcoming change. From the Shikhmatovs' 
house, Elisabeth addressed a number of letters. On December 2, 
she wrote one to the Dowager Empress Maria Fyodorovna in 
which one finds a peculiar sentence: "When he goes I will go 
too if permitted. I will go with him as long as I shall be able 
to. I still do not know what will become of me." 

Two days later, she wrote to her mother and repeated almost 
the same sentence that she had written in the letter to her 
mother-in-law: "I stay here as long as he is here; when he goes, 
I shall go too, but I do not know when ... I feel well, do not 
worry too much about me, but, if I dared, I would like to 
follow the one who has been my very life." 

Meanwhile, couriers had been dispatched to Warsaw and 
to St. Petersburg to announce the fatal news to the Grand Duke 
Constantine, still officially heir to the throne, and to the im- 
perial family. The courier sent to Warsaw reached Constan- 
tine in the evening of December 7. As soon as the grand duke 
read the news, he ordered the preparation of papers to be dis- 
patched to St. Petersburg announcing the renunciation of his 
right of succession in favor of his next brother, Nicholas. It 


took all night to have the papers written, copied, and executed, 
and in the morning of December 8, Constantine entrusted the 
documents to his younger brother, Michael, who was staying 
with him in Warsaw, and sent him off to St. Petersburg. 

While Grand Duke Michael was on his way, the courier 
from Taganrog reached St. Petersburg on the morning of 
December 9. At that time the Dowager Empress Maria 
Fyodorovna, the Grand Duke Nicholas, his wife, and members 
of the court were attending a Te Deum in the palace chapel 
for the recovery of Emperor Alexander. The news was de- 
livered to Nicholas who interrupted the service and then and 
there took the oath of allegiance to the new Emperor Con- 
stantine followed by members of the court. Later Nicholas, 
as the senior member of the imperial family in St. Petersburg, 
issued a formal proclamation announcing the death of Alex- 
ander and the succession of Constantine and the taking of an 
oath of allegiance to the new emperor by members of the 
government and the troops stationed at the capital. 

It was only on December 15 that Grand Duke Michael ar- 
rived in St. Petersburg and threw his brother, Nicholas, into 
consternation by the decision of Constantine. Nicholas feared 
that the country would not accept such "family arrangements" 
and immediately sent a courier to Warsaw informing Con- 
stantine that the capital had already taken an oath to him and 
imploring him to reverse his decision. Later, Nicholas sent 
Michael to Warsaw again with instructions to try to persuade 
Constantine by a personal appeal. But it was all in vain. And 
while couriers were galloping day and night during the next 
ten days between St. Petersburg and Warsaw, Russia had no 
sovereign. Finally Nicholas reluctantly decided to ascend the 


throne. This decision was reached late in the night of Decem- 
ber 25, at the end of a long session of the Council of State and 
after the President of the Senate, Lopukhin, pleaded eloquently 
with the grand duke, pointing to the documents which Alex- 
ander had left with him as proof that such was the desire of the 
late emperor. So the members of the government and high 
officials of the empire were ordered to assemble the next 
morning in the Winter Palace to take a new oath of allegiance, 
this rime to Nicholas. At the same time, orders were issued to 
the troops to take the new oath in their quarters. 

This was the occasion that the members of the secret Nor- 
thern Society seized to attempt a revolution. All through the 
night they went from regiment to regiment trying to persuade 
the soldiers that Nicholas was a usurper and that Constantine 
was held captive in Warsaw. These tactics partially succeeded 
and in the morning of December 26 some units in defiance of 
orders marched to the Senate Square near the Winter Palace 
demanding to be shown the will of Emperor Alexander. There 
they stood all day in the bitter cold, abandoned by most of 
the conspirators, defiant, but leaderless. When the Military 
Governor of St. Petersburg, General Count Miloradovich, a 
hero of the War of 1812, rode up to the rebellious troops in an 
attempt to persuade them to return to their barracks, he was 
shot and killed by one of the minor conspirators. And further 
entreaties by Grand Duke Michael and the metropolitan, Sera- 
phim, were to no avail. While the rebels counted three thou- 
sand, they represented but a small proportion of the garrison 
of the capital. Finally, when evening was setting, and after a 
cavalry attack on the rebels had been repulsed by their rifle 
fire, Nicholas ordered artillery to be brought up. The rebels 


were quickly dispersed by cannon shot, leaving many dead and 
wounded. And in the night that followed, most of the would-be 
revolutionaries of the Northern Society were arrested. Thus 
ended the so-called "Decembrist revolt." In quelling it, Nicho- 
las showed moderation and a strength of character that no 
one suspected in him. And having disposed of his "friends 
of the 2 6th of December," the new emperor was ready to pro- 
ceed with the ceremonial funeral of his brother and predeces- 

During all this time the body of Alexander had remained in 
Taganrog. Finally the arrangements for transporting it to St. 
Petersburg were completed and the funeral procession left 
Taganrog on January 10, 1826. It moved slowly across the vast 
expanse of Russia, stopping each night in a village or town 
where the coffin, always closed, was invariably placed in a 
local church or cathedral where it was viewed by the multi- 
tudes, not in the least suspicious that it might contain the body 
of a common mortal and not that of a crowned and annointed 

After a stop in Moscow from February 15 to February 18, 
the procession reached Tsarskoye Selo on March 12. Here at 
midnight on March 13, the coffin was opened (after a pre- 
liminary inspection by Dr. Tarasov) so that the body could 
be viewed by the members of the imperial family. Special pre- 
cautions were taken so that the soldiers and servants who lifted 
the lid of the casket would not see the body. And they were 
kept at a considerable distance during the time when the 
Dowager Empress Maria Fyodorovna, Emperor Nicholas, and 
his Empress Alexandra, and Grand Duke Michael each in turn 
ascended the steps and viewed the body. But they could hear 


as the dowager empress exclaimed: "Yes, this is my dear son, 
my dear Alexander. Oh, how he has changed!'* 

On March 18, the body, now reposing in a bronze casket, 
was moved to St. Petersburg. There it stayed in the Cathedral 
of Our Lady of Kazan until March 25. On that morning it 
was taken to the church in the fortress of Saints Peter and 
Paul where it received the final burial. It was a gray, cloudy 
morning and the procession, which included Emperor Nicho- 
las, moved slowly on foot through the slush of half -melted 
snow along streets lined with quiet, solemn people, many of 
whom sobbed. The journey took two hours. Finally, when 
the casket was lowered into the vault, the thunder of cannon 
announced to the people of St. Petersburg that Alexander the 
Blessed, who had reigned over them for twenty-five years, 
had reached his last resting place. And soon he was to be fol- 
lowed by his spouse. 

Empress Elisabeth Alexeyevna had remained in Taganrog 
throughout this trying winter. But on May 3, she left the tragic 
little city going north to Kaluga where she was to meet her 
mother-in-law, the Dowager Empress Maria Fyodorovna, who 
was coming the long way from St. Petersburg. For what pur- 
pose? Was Empress Elisabeth going to reveal the secret? Or 
was she to confirm the dowager empress' suspicions? We 
will never know, for before reaching Kaluga, Elisabeth died 
in the small town of Belev, in the province of Tula, in the 
early morning of May 16, and the dowager empress, who had 
hastened beyond Kaluga to meet her daughter-in-law, arrived 
in Belev a few hours later only to find a corpse. Elisabeth's wish 
"to follow the one who was my very life" seems to have been 
fulfilled. Or was it? Because strange things had happened in 


the town of Taganrog not only preceding but also following 
the official death of Emperor Alexander I. 

During the last days of November, th6 beautiful Bay of 
Taganrog, always gay with vessels from many foreign coun- 
tries, gradually became deserted. Every ship hastened to leave 
port in time to clear the entrance to the Sea of Azov before it 
was blocked by ice. And by December i there was only one 
boat which had fearlessly remained at anchor on the steel- 
gray waters of Taganrog Bay. This vessel was a private yacht 
and she bore a British flag. Her owner was the Earl of Cathcart, 
former ambassador of His Britannic Majesty at the Court of 
St. Petersburg. When the sad news of the emperor's death rang 
through the town, hardly anyone paid attention to the belated 
stay of this yacht in Taganrog waters. The people of Taganrog, 
the people of Russia were alarmed. And the people of Tagan- 
rog did not display their usual curiosity, and failed even to 
notice the day when the lonely ship left the harbor. Nor could 
the actual date of her sailing be ascertained from her log, be- 
cause for some perhaps obvious reasons her skipper neglected to 
make any entries until the end of December. By that time the 
yacht was sailing lazily through the blue waters of the Medi- 
terranean. She had performed an important mission after leav- 
ing Taganrog with a distinguished visitor on board. She had 
been to the Holy Land, where the distinguished visitor had 
gone to pray at the tomb of the Savior, as reported by the 
British Consul at Jerusalem. Then she had taken him back to 
the land of "barbarians" where even a once-crowned head 
still had a conscience and was ready to expiate with Christian 
resolution and fortitude a voluntary, or even an involuntary, 
crime in order to save his immortal soul. 


OVER TEN years had passed since the day the bronze casket 
bearing the inscription "Emperor Alexander I the Blessed" 
was lowered into the vault of the church of Saints Peter and 
Paul. On September 16, 1836, a stranger, mounted on a beauti- 
ful white horse, followed the trail of exiles to Siberia. He rode 
his superb mount in silence. The autumn days were clear and 
sunny. The roads were deserted. The air was filled with the 
fragrance of pine and cedar trees and with that little some- 
thing of sadness that is so characteristic of a northern autumn. 
In the early mornings, frost, the first messenger of winter, 
spread a silver veil over the green grass and the yellow sand of 
the road. It was obvious that summer had gone. 

Late in the evening of that day the stranger reached Kras- 
noufimsk. Stopping at an inn, he silently dismounted, entered 
the large, low-ceilinged room and made the sign of the cross 
before the icons. He was tall and had a military bearing not- 
withstanding his very simple civilian clothes. He appeared to be 
a man of about sixty years of age and wore a gray beard. He re- 
mained silent most of the rime as if in deep thought. When 



addressed, he made short and enigmatic replies, but he did not 
start a conversation himself. The innkeeper did not ask him who 
he was, because in Siberia only the authorities are interested in 
the names or deeds of people. So the stranger passed a quiet 
night at the inn. The next morning, however, the police de- 
manded to see his papers. He had none. They asked him who 
he was. He refused to answer them. The police then arrested 
him as a tramp and took him to court on the charge of vagrancy. 
In accordance with the existing laws, he was sentenced to 
twenty lashes of the whip and to deportation, because he was 
too old to serve in the army. And on April 7, 1837, under the 
number 117, which had been assigned to him, he was sent to 
Bogoyavlensk with a party of other prisoners. This time he 
could not ride, because he had given his horse to the innkeeper 
in payment for his stay. He walked through the deep snow 
rubbing shoulders with thieves and murderers. And in a small 
bundle containing his belongings there was an icon of Our 
Lady of Pochayev bearing on one side the letters A.I. sur- 
mounted by the imperial crown. 

In Bogoyavlensk, the stranger remained for five years until 
1842. From then on he was known by the assumed name of 
Fyodor Kuzmich. Very often people would ask him to tell them 
his real first name so that they could pray for him to his patron 
saint, but invariably he refused, once even adding that it was 
not necessary because the church prayed for him. 

Very soon after this deportation to Bogoyavlensk, Grand 
Duke Michael came to Krasnoufimsk where Fyodor Kuzmich 
had been sentenced. When the grand duke learned that the 
stranger had beea punished with twenty lashes of the whip, 
he became furious. He went to the judge who had pronounced 


the sentence and threatened to inflict upon him a lashing also 
and to send him to Bogoyavlensk to take the place of Fyodor 
Kuzmich. But later, after he had visited the stranger himself and 
spent a long time in conversation with him, he seemed to be 
pacified and did not carry out his threat to the unfortunate 

During Fyodor Kuzmich's stay in Bogoyavlensk it hap- 
pened that Afanasy, Archbishop of Irkutsk, when passing 
through the town desired to visit the stranger. Fyodor Kuzmich 
met the archbishop at the entrance to his modest dwelling and 
bowed to the ground. The archbishop did likewise. Then they 
kissed each other's hands and entered the house, where they 
remained closeted for many hours and talked in a foreign lan- 
guage. This puzzled the good people of the small town, but 
they were not accustomed to asking too many questions. After 
the archbishop's visit, Fyodor Kuzmich's landlord, calling his 
attention to the icons and engravings which were visible on the 
walls of his room, asked if it was not the archbishop who left 
them for him. Fyodor Kuzmich replied that he had possessed 
them for a long rime and that he had received them as a gift 
from a certain Peter Volkonsky, a very good friend of his. 

In 1842, Fyodor Kuzmich left Bogoyavlensk and for some 
time moved from place to place until he settled in a village near 
Krasnorechensk. There he lived for eight years in the depths 
of the forest in a small hut which had been built for him by a 
rich peasant named Ivan Latyshov. Its interior contained only 
a narrow wooden couch, a few wooden benches and some 
icons including one of St. Alexander Nevsky, the patron 
saint of Emperor Alexander. Fyodor Kuzmich felt very happy 
here. During the summer he lived in the small hut among the 


dark and massive cedar trees. He kept bees and was always 
very proud to be able to offer his landlord or his guests some of 
the honey that his bees had collected during the short summer. 
For the winter months he abandoned his small hut and took 
quarters in his landlord's house. In the course of the long winter 
evenings he told the people who came to see Latyshov and 
Latyshov's family innumerable stories about court life and his- 
torical events that had occurred at the beginning of the nine- 
teenth century. 

It appears that he recalled with the greatest pleasure the 
times of Empress Catherine II. Stories about her, about the 
Turkish campaigns, about the exploits of Field Marshal Suvorov 
delighted his simple listeners. Then he told them also about the 
famous men of a more recent period, about Kutuzov and how 
the old soldier emerged victorious from the campaign of 1812. 
But he never mentioned the name of Emperor Paul I and very 
seldom that of Emperor Alexander I. Only once did he re- 
count the following anecdote: "When Napoleon was march- 
ing on Moscow, Emperor Alexander went to pray at the casket 
of Saint Serge of Radonezh. The cathedral was dark and he 
was alone. Abundant tears streamed down the cheeks of the 
praying emperor. And suddenly he heard a voice which said 
distinctly, 'Go, Alexander, and trust Kutuzov. God be with 
you.' " 

Although not belonging to any of the orders, Fyodor Kuz- 
mich led the life of a monk. He slept on a thin mattress placed 
on boards. He wore only the simplest garments of unbleached 
linen. His food never included meat and he fasted often. He 
kept up a large correspondence with people in Russia. How- 
ever, he wanted to keep this a secret and therefore hid care- 


fully his paper, pen and ink, destroying the letters that he 
received or locking them in a small wooden box. He visited the 
local church upon every occasion prescribed by the Russian 
Orthodox religion, but constantly refused to receive Holy 
Communion. This fact at the beginning alarmed the local priest, 
but the latter very soon received word from his bishop to the 
effect that he should not worry about it and that Fyodor Kuz- 
mich was a very holy man. The stranger, although apparently 
unknown to everyone, seemed to have protectors of impor- 

One day when Latyshov's farm hands began to sing a sol- 
diers' song about the white tsar and how he fought the French, 
Fyodor Kuzmich suddenly became deeply moved and went 
away, his eyes full of tears. Later on he begged Latyshov to 
ask his farm hands not to sing songs about Alexander I. 

On another day, when workmen who were repairing his 
hut made such an infernal noise that he could not say his prayers, 
Fyodor Kuzmich stepped out with fiery eyes and burning 
cheeks and shaking his fist at them shouted with rage: "If 
only you knew who I was, you would not martyr me like this. 
I have but to write one word to St. Petersburg and you would 
cease to exist." Soon afterward, however, he realized that he 
should not have behaved as he did and begged the workmen 
to forgive him and to forget what he had said. 

During these eight years he was twice recognized by former 
soldiers of his. "One day," relates the priest, George Belousov, 
"an old soldier who had been condemned to be deported to 
Siberia, but whose name I cannot recall, told me that when he 
met Fyodor Kuzmich he recognized in him Emperor Alex- 


ander and fell to his knees. Fyodor Kuzmich treated him very 
kindly, but begged him not to tell anyone about what had 

On another occasion he was recognized by an old soldier 
by the name of Olenev, whom Alexander had known per- 
sonally. Fyodor Kuzmich was a guest at the house of a man 
named Paramonov who had been the chairman of the board 
of trustees of the local church. It was there that Olenev saw him 
and immediately exclaimed, "This is our Little Father, Tsar 
Alexander Pavlovich!" This time Fyodor Kuzmich became 
angry and said, "I am a tramp. Do not tell anyone that I am a 
tsar, because you would be put in prison and I would have to 

During his stay with Latyshov, Fyodor Kuzmich was taken 
ill and his landlord placed him in the nearest hospital. At that 
time, the hospital was visited by General Count Kleinmichel, 
former chief of staff of the military settlements, who was on a 
tour of inspection in Siberia. Kleinmichel, of course, knew 
Alexander well enough to recognize him even after all these 
years. As soon as Fyodor Kuzmich heard about KleinmichePs 
impending visit, he took every precaution to avoid being seen 
by him. Finally, when Kleinmichel entered the ward where 
Fyodor Kuzmich occupied a cot, the latter drew the sheets over 
his face and pretended to be asleep, thus avoiding recognition. 

Years went by. The gray beard of the stranger had turned 
quite white. His hair, also white and rather thin on the crown 
of his head and temples, flowed down his neck in long curly 
streams. He stooped rather heavily although when he walked 
with his two hands thrust in his belt he seemed to be taller, 


revealing without a doubt his former military training. And 
his light blue eyes ever remained alive as if age did not dare 
touch their beauty. 

All through these years he had continued to lead a simple 
and uneventful life among simple people. Important events had 
taken place in Russia and in Europe. Emperor Nicholas I had 
attempted to undertake the emancipation of the serfs by two 
laws promulgated on April 14, 1842, and November 20, 1847. 
They had perhaps as much the nature of half -measures as the 
famous law promulgated by Emperor Alexander in 1803. 
Nevertheless, they were conscientious attempts to solve that 
all-important problem. Then came the year 1848. Europe was 
once more in the throes of revolutionary convulsions. Russia 
alone stood out like an invulnerable giant. But it was already 
evident that the giant had feet of clay. News of these events 
reached Siberia also and became a topic for regular comment 
on the part of Fyodor Kuzmich. He invariably praised the 
attitude of Emperor Nicholas I, but never compared it with 
that of Emperor Alexander. Only once did he make a direct 
allusion to the past. When commenting on the downfall of 
Prince Metternich (he called him always "Count" Metter- 
nich, and we know that the Austrian diplomat and statesman 
received his princely title only after 1825) he said, "If that 
had happened during the reign of Emperor Alexander, it would 
have pleased him, because Alexander did not like the old fox 
of Vienna." 

Then came the news of the Hungarian rebellion and of 
Russia's intervention in order to help Emperor Francis- Joseph 
retain his crown. Fyodor Kuzmich followed the news of Rus- 


sian victories with a great deal of excitement and praised the 
Russian soldier as the best in the world. 

It was in this year, 1849, th** he had given his blessing to a 
young woman who was going to make a pilgrimage to the 
venerated shrines and monasteries of Russia. This young woman 
was named Alexandra Nikiforovna and was the daughter of 
a peasant from Krasnorechensk. Born in 1827, she had lost 
her parents while still in her infancy and had been educated by 
a priest, Father Polikarp. She was very religious and it was 
not surprising that when, at the age of twelve, she first met 
Fyodor Kuzmich she soon began to regard him almost as a 
saint. With passing years this admiration turned into a pro- 
found attachment and affection. The girl became a real com- 
panion to Fyodor Kuzmich. She helped him in whatever she 
could and served as his regular messenger. But most of her 
time she spent listening to the old man's stories of the past. 

Of all that Fyodor Kuzmich told her, she liked best his 
descriptions of different Russian monasteries, and began to 
dream of a regular pilgrimage to the holy shrines of Russia. 
When she was getting ready to leave, she said to Fyodor Kuz- 
mich: "But above all I should like to see the tsar." And when 
the old man inquired of her why she was so anxious to do so, 
she replied, "Well, Little Father, everyone says, 'the tsar this' 
and 'the tsar that' and no one knows exactly how he looks." 
To this Fyodor Kuzmich remarked pensively: "Wait, perhaps 
you will see more than one tsar. If it be the will of God, you 
might even talk to them and would then see that tsars are human 
like everyone else." 

When Alexandra Nikiforovna arrived in Russia, at first she 


wanted to go directly to the monastery of Our Lady of 
Pochayev, but remembering that Fyodor Kuzmich had told 
her to visit the town of Kremenchug and to find there Count 
Dimitry Osten-Sacken, she did so and spent several months in 
the count's house. While she was there, Emperor Nicholas I 
came to Kremenchug and also stopped at the house of Count 
Osten-Sacken. There he learned of the presence of Alexandra 
Nikiforovna and asked to see her. She came and was received 
by the emperor in the presence of their host. Nicholas im- 
mediately began to ask her about life in Siberia and about Fyo- 
dor Kuzmich. Alexandra Nikiforovna replied frankly to all 
his questions. Some of her replies amused the emperor, who 
said to Count Osten-Sacken: "You have a brave guest here. 
She is not even afraid to answer any questions of such a power- 
ful man as I." To this the girl replied at once: "Why should I 
be afraid when God is with me and I am protected by the 
holy prayers of Fyodor Kuzmich?" The emperor then became 
pensive and said, "Indeed, Fyodor Kuzmich is a holy man." 

Upon leaving, Nicholas gave Alexandra Nikiforovna a 
personal note and told her to come to visit him in St. Petersburg. 
"You will have but to show this note at the entrance to the 
palace and you will be brought to me at once. And do not 
forget to ask me for anything you need. Friends of Fyodor 
Kuzmich are my friends." 

But Alexandra Nikiforovna did not go to St. Petersburg, and 
in 1852 she returned to Siberia. There she was eagerly awaited 
by Fyodor Kuzmich who asked her to describe to him all of 
her journey. When she described her meeting with Emperor 
Nicholas and repeated what he had said to her about Fyodor 
Kuzmich, the old man could not restrain his tears. For many 


days Alexandra Nikif orovna entertained her protector by re- 
lating to him in detail all that she had done and seen during 
the two years of her absence. One day, while he was listening 
to her apparently absorbed in his own thoughts, the girl sud- 
denly exclaimed, "Little Father, Fyodor Kuzmich, how like 
Emperor Alexander Pavlovich you are!" No sooner had she 
pronounced these words than Fyodor Kuzmich jumped to his 
feet. His eyebrows were menacingly drawn together, his blue 
eyes were flaming. "How do you know it? Who told you so?" 
he demanded sternly. Alexandra Nikif orovna became fright- 
ened and explained: "No one told me, Little Father, I said it 
without thinking. I saw a portrait of Alexander Pavlovich 
at Count Osten-Sacken's and it seemed to me that you are 
like him and that you hold your hand on your belt exactly as 
he did in the portrait." 

Fyodor Kuzmich did not reply to this, but went into the 
next room in order to hide the sudden emotion that over- 
whelmed him. 

For five more years Alexandra Nikiforovna remained with 
Fyodor Kuzmich. In the course of this time the old man re- 
ceived an important visit. One day an open carriage stopped 
near his modest house. A young man wearing the uniform of 
an officer of the Hussar Regiment of the Guards stepped out 
and gracefully assisted a young and attractive woman to alight. 
They entered the house and spent over an hour in animated 
conversation conducted in a foreign language. When they 
were leaving, the young officer kissed Fyodor Kuzmich's hand, 
a thing that the latter had never before permitted anyone to 
do. The old man accompanied them to their carriage and after- 
ward stood for a long rime in the middle of the road gazing in 


the direction where they had disappeared. When he returned 
to his dwelling he smiled and said: "A long time ago I was 
known by my grandparents and now it is the turn of my 
grandchildren." Fyodor Kuzmich concealed his true relation- 
ship to the visitors, because the young officer was his nephew, 
the Grand Duke Alexander Nikolayevich, the future Emperor 
Alexander II, and the young woman who accompanied him was 
his wife, the Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna. 

On March 2, 1855, Emperor Nicholas I died. When this 
news reached Fyodor Kuzmich, he was deeply moved. He 
could not remain in his room and went outside. He walked 
slowly down a narrow path in the snow, along the river, and 
into the dark forest. His thoughts must have been troubled. 
So, after all, he had outlived his younger brother, and many 
others. Where now were Pahlen, Kutuzov, La Harpe, Na- 
poleon, Arakcheyev? For a moment he visualized what would 
have happened if he had not fled from the throne, but he soon 
drove these thoughts away. God had willed it thus and he had 
but to thank Him for His mercy. 

Late in 1857, Alexandra Nikiforovna again left for a pil- 
grimage to Russian monasteries. She was never to see her pro- 
tector again. Soon after her departure, Fyodor Kuzmich ac- 
cepted the invitation of a wealthy merchant by the name of 
Simeon Khromov and went to live with him. At first he settled 
on Khromov's small estate three miles from the town of Tomsk, 
but later he moved into Tomsk where Khromov had a hut 
built for him in his own garden containing a similarly simple 
interior as that at Latyshov's. Here Fyodor Kuzmich spent 
the last years of his life as a recluse. He now became even less 
communicative than before and spent most of his nights in 


prayer. Khromov once saw that the old man's knees were cal- 
loused from kneeling for hours on the hard floor. The stranger's 
health failed visibly during these years. No doubt it was the 
result of the hermitlike existence that he was leading but of 
course old age also had something to do with it: he was eighty. 

In Tomsk he aroused the natural curiosity of people. Some 
of them, not aware of his dislike of being questioned, bothered 
him with attempts to discover his real identity. One day a 
young woman by the name of Natalia Popova asked him to 
tell her the names of his parents so that she might order a 
requiem mass for the repose of their souls. "You need not 
know them," Fyodor Kuzmich replied, "because the Holy 
Church prays for them. If I told you my name, I would have 
to disappear and heaven would mourn, while hell would re- 
joice and celebrate a victory." 

In the summer Fyodor Kuzmich spent most of his time in 
the large fruit grove adjoining Khromov's garden. There too 
he kept bees as he had done before when he had lived at Laty- 
shov's. Khromov used to tidy his hut personally, because Fyo- 
dor Kuzmich did not like to employ servants. One day a woman 
by the name of Olga Balakina, who often went to see Fyodor 
Kuzmich, entered the old man's abode, but found only 
Khromov. When Balakina entered, Khromov was bending 
over a wooden box in which the hermit kept all his papers. At 
the sound of steps, Khromov turned abruptly, but seeing it 
was not Fyodor Kuzmich, he produced a large blue sheet of 
paper bearing seals and many signatures and said: "They all 
say that Fyodor Kuzmich is a tramp but, see, here is a marriage 
certificate of the Grand Duke Alexander Pavlovich and Elisa- 
beth Alexeyevna." 


When the news reached Tomsk that Emperor Alexander II 
had freed the serfs, it caused great excitement among the people, 
although there were no serfs in Siberia. Fyodor Kuzmich, how- 
ever, refrained from discussing this subject, although in previ- 
ous years he had always been ready to comment on all im- 
portant events. It was not until the evening of the day when 
this news had arrived that he told Khromov: "It has always been 
a cherished dream of Emperor Alexander I." 

In January, 1864, Fyodor Kuzmich became very ill. He 
could not take any food and subsisted only on water. His 
strength was failing, but he kept a clear head up to his last hour. 
During this rime, Khromov slept in his room in order to be near 
him should he need anything in the night. On January 3 1 , Fyo- 
dor Kuzmich awoke in the night, raised himself on his cot and 
said distinctly: "The end is near." Then he lay back and slum- 
bered until morning. When Khromov left the old man's room 
in the morning, he said as usual: "Give me your blessing, Little 
Father." Fyodor Kuzmich replied: "Go with God!" and then 
added: "Now give me your blessing." At first Khromov pro- 
tested, but when the old man insisted, he said: "God bless you, 
Little Father." Fyodor Kuzmich smiled and lay back on his 

The whole day of February i he remained silent. From time 
to time his lips moved, but his eyes were closed. Khromov 
understood that he was praying. He had not the strength to 
get up. Toward nine o'clock in the evening Khromov noticed 
that Fyodor Kuzmich was nearing his end. He was suffering 
great pain, but not a murmur escaped his lips, and his eyes were 
extraordinarily bright and luminous. People hearing that the 
old man's life was ebbing came into his cell and stood there 


holding lighted candles. With a trembling hand Fyodor Kuz- 
mich motioned for a candle. He held it for but a few moments; 
then he let his hand fall and a deep sigh marked his passing. 

His body clad in a simple white shirt of unbleached linen 
was buried in the grounds of the Bogoroditsko-Alexeyevsk 
monastery in Tomsk on February 4, 1864. A simple cross 
marked his grave. The cross bore the inscription: "Here rests 
the body of the Great and Blessed Father Fyodor Kuzmich." 

Many years later, when the last Russian Emperor Nich- 
olas II, then still only heir to the throne, traveled through 
Siberia on his way to the Far East, he visited the simple grave. 
Noticing the poor wooden cross he ordered a marble slab to 
replace it and a chapel built over the grave. 

Few things remained in the modest hut in Khromov's garden 
that had belonged to the departed old man. They had all been 
gathered together, carefully sealed, and sent to St. Petersburg 
by special command of the governor general at Irkutsk. Khro- 
mov had kept only a small sachet which he had taken from the 
hermit's neck after his death, and which contained the old 
man's secret, as Fyodor Kuzmich had told Khromov on more 
than one occasion. The sachet contained only a note in cipher. 
For many years it kept its secret until it was recently deci- 
phered. It read: 

ANNA VASILIEVNA: We have discovered a terrible flaw in 
our son: Count Pahlen informs me of Alexander's par- 
ticipation in the conspiracy. We must hide, tonight, wher- 
ever it is possible. 
Saint Petersburg. 

23111. 1 80 1 PAUL 



THE MYSTERY that to this day surrounds the events concerning 
the official death of Emperor Alexander I in 1825, as well as 
the hypothesis that he survived in the person of Fyodor Kuz- 
mich, form problems of history for scholars and students to 
solve as fascinating as those connected with the Dauphin 
Louis XVII and Marshal Ney in France, or the Roanoke Col- 
ony in America. The statements in this Appendix are presented 
to the reader in order to amplify the main body of the work and 
to acquaint him with the difficulties confronting the historian. 
The statements contain at times certain contradictions, which 
at first glance would appear to invalidate the author's thesis. 
However, it is the author's belief that such a wide range of 
statements, often based on the testimony of witnesses, might 
of itself constitute a partial proof of the veracity of the thesis, 
as in the saying, "Where there is smoke there is fire." But the 
author's contention that Emperor Alexander I not only did not 
die in Taganrog in 1825, but lived under the name of Fyodor 
Kuzmich in Siberia until 1864, is largely based on negative 
evidence, because no historian has ever been able to identify 
Fyodor Kuzmich. It is self-evident that Fyodor Kuzmich was 


no common hermit for he knew too well the details of court 
life during the reign of Alexander I (this is admitted even by 
those historians who have discarded the author's thesis as sheer 
imagination), yet every person at the time who might have had 
such knowledge is well accounted for everyone except Alex- 
ander himself. 

It is the author's surmise that the proof of his thesis can be 
found in the private papers of the Cathcart family in England, 
access to which has been refused to every investigator including 
the late Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich. Such a refusal was 
registered as late as 1925, the year that marked the centenary of 
the emperor's official death, when Prince Vladimir Bariatinsky 
made a futile attempt to obtain access to the Cathcart papers 
on the ground that a century is the longest known period for 
keeping archives closed to investigation. Granting that one 
hundred years is a safe period after which secrets may be 
divulged and believing in the identity of Emperor Alexander I 
and Fyodor Kuzmich, the author is convinced that the truth 
will be known in 1964 when one hundred years will have 
elapsed since the death of Alexander in the guise of the Siberian 
hermit. And the author hopes that the Cathcart papers will 
then be made available. Until then the author invites the reader 
to weigh the evidence presented and to draw his own conclu- 



News from Russia reveals the sacrilegious opening by the Mos- 
cow vampires of the tomb of Emperor Alexander I. It was 


[PARIS], APRIL ii, 1926 

In the autumn of 1919 I made the acquaintance in Simpheropol 
of General Balinsky. He often used to spend the evenings at 
the house of my son-in-law, Tatishchev, then governor of the 
province of Taurida. One evening the conversation touched 
upon the subject of his preoccupation: the possible sale of 
a manuscript which represented the results of his lifelong 
efforts. Convinced of our real interest in the subject he then 
told us, i.e., N. A. Tatishchev, his wife (my daughter) and 
myself, the following: 

General Balinsky was the son of a well-known psychiatrist, 
Professor Balinsky, who for many years had been the director 
of a psychiatric clinic in St. Petersburg. The janitor of the 
clinic had been appointed in a strange fashion. Emperor Alex- 
ander II once had expressed the desire that a retired soldier, 
whom he knew, should be given the position of janitor at the 
clinic. This soldier proved to be an excellent man, with a kind 

1 The contents of this statement are confirmed by the Grand Duke 
Andrey Vladimirovich in a letter addressed to Prince Vladimir Bariatinsky 
and published by the latter in his book Le mystere cTAlexandre ler. 



heart, but with a rather taciturn disposition. General Balinsky, 
the son of the professor, knew him from childhood and was his 
friend. Professor Balinsky did not know why the emperor 
was interested in this soldier until the latter's death hour. When 
dying, the janitor desired to see the professor and found it 
necessary to communicate to him the following [the Grand 
Duke Andrey Vladimirovich complements here the statement 
of Madame Dubasov by saying that the reason for this con- 
fession lay in the fact that the old soldier had willed to his 
daughter the sum of ten thousand roubles, which he had re- 
ceived from the emperor, and that he did not want Balinsky to 
wonder how he became the owner of such an important sum] : 
Many years ago (1866) he was sent one night together with 
other soldiers for special duty at the cathedral of Saints Peter 
and Paul [which contained the family vault of the Romanov 
dynasty]. There they found the emperor and a group of 
generals. The soldiers first had to take an oath not to reveal to 
anyone what they were going to witness. Then they were 
ordered to open the tomb of Emperor Alexander I. The human 
remains were removed from the tomb, placed in a simple coffin 
and buried the same night in a lonely spot in one of the capital's 
cemeteries. All this performance was closely supervised by the 
emperor himself. . . . Here lies the explanation of the fact 
that when the Bolsheviks opened the tomb of Emperor Alex- 
ander I they found it empty. 

When General Balinsky learned from his father the contents 
of the janitor's confession, he became ardently desirous to solve 
the riddle of Alexander's death and of the life of Fyodor Kuz- 
mich and ever since he has devoted much time, effort and money 
to it. 


Being convinced by now that the emperor's death had been 
faked, first of all he carried out research in order to establish 
the means of his disappearance. Investigating the circumstances, 
Balinsky came to the conclusion that there must necessarily be 
a relation between the manner of disappearance and the place 
chosen for it: it was necessary to "die" in a seaport, because 
only a sea route does not leave any traces. Therefore it was 
obviously this consideration which had prompted the choice of 
Taganrog, a lively seaport, visited by many foreign ships. . . . 
Balinsky then made an inquiry at Lloyd's and found that after 
November 25, there was only one foreign ship in Taganrog. It 
was the yacht of the former British ambassador at the Court 
of St. Petersburg, the Earl of Cathcart. With this the officials 
of Lloyd's had established a strange fact: the yacht's log did 
not contain either the date of her departure from Taganrog or 
her destination; only after a lapse of a few weeks an entry 
placed her as navigating in the Mediterranean. This is par- 
ticularly strange because according to rules and custom the 
log is kept day by day. Thus on the basis of the presence of the 
yacht in Taganrog, of the lack of entries in the ship's log and 
of the friendship which had existed between the emperor and 
the Earl of Cathcart, Balinsky came to the conclusion that 
Alexander I "disappeared" on this yacht. . . . Continuing 
further his research, Balinsky found traces of the presence of a 
mysterious traveler in Palestine and then established the arrival 
of this traveler at Kiev. At the time when General Count 
Dimitry Erofeyevich Osten-Sacken (the hero of Sevastopol) 
was governor or governor general of Kiev, he received the 
visit of this mysterious traveler and entertained secret pour- 
parlers with him. As the result of this, the mysterious traveler 


obtained identification papers in the name of Fyodor Kuzmich 
[both names common to the family of Osten-Sacken], re- 
ceived indications as to the routes to follow to Siberia and a 
white horse on which he departed. 

After this Balinsky continued his research in another di- 
rection. It is known that, before leaving St. Petersburg for 
Taganrog, Alexander had entrusted the metropolitan of the 
capital with a sealed envelope to be delivered to his successor. 
As this envelope had never been delivered to Emperor Nich- 
olas I, Balinsky began to look for it. The metropolitan whom 
Balinsky had told of his aim replied that he had never heard of 
such an envelope. Nevertheless, he gave Balinsky permission 
to search the archives of the Laure [the residence of the metro- 
politan of St. Petersburg] and presently, after much hard 
work, Balinsky discovered the envelope in question and brought 
it to the astonished prelate. . . . However, the metropolitan 
refused to give Balinsky permission to break the seals and 
ordered him to deliver the envelope to Sabler, the Procurator 
of the Holy Synod, who, after some time, declined to tell 
Balinsky what happened to it. 

These are the contents in a few words of Balinsky's manu- 
script backed by numerous documentary evidence. ... As 
far as I know General Balinsky was shot by the Bolsheviks in 




... At a certain time before the Russian-Japanese war I 
had under my orders (in the Naval Hospital at Cronstadt) a 


Dr. Martens, nephew and namesake of the famous professor 
of international law at the Imperial University of St. Peters- 
burg. . . .* One day during the meal hour, our conversation 
touched upon the question of the date of Emperor Alexander's 
death. When I mentioned the year 1825, Dr. Martens inter- 
rupted me and asked, to my great surprise, whether I really 
believed that the emperor died in Taganrog at that time. 
I answered affirmatively basing my statement on events 
known. . . . But he said: "No. My uncle, the professor, knows 
of irrefutable documents showing that Emperor Alexander I 
did not die in 1825 at Taganrog, but that he disappeared, ex- 
changing the life on the throne for that of a hermit, and that 
he died much later, already in the reign of Emperor Alexander 
Nikolayevich [Alexander II]. These documents remain secret 
at present, because according to the laws of the empire they 
cannot be made public before one hundred years after the date 
of his death, but they are known to more than one person!" 


When I was sixteen years of age I lived in Omsk in the house 
of my father, General Aide-de-Camp Meshcherinov, then gov- 
neror general of western Siberia. In the autumn of 1881 an 
aide-de-camp, whose name I have forgotten, arrived from St. 
Petersburg to my father with a special mission to collect and to 
bring to the capital all the documents and effects which be- 

2 Professor Frederic Martens, member of the Institute of International LAW 
and of the Institut de France, solicitor of the Russian Ministry of Foreign 
Affairs and Russia's representative at a number of international conferences 
from 1874 (Brussels) until 1899 (The Hague). 

1 P. N. Krupensky: "The Emperor's Secret" (in Russian), pp. 88-91. 


longed to Fyodor Kuzmich. My father then sent the vice- 
governor, Gregory Baklashin, and a clerk by the name of 
Kassagovsky to the locality where Fyodor Kuzmich had died. 
They returned with a number of articles and I was present 
when these were being sorted. Among them was an icon on 
the back of which I saw some kind of inscription, also the initial 
A surmounted by an imperial crown. Then there were three 
packages of letters written all in English and representing the 
correspondence which Fyodor Kuzmich had conducted with 
different people. My mother, who knew English well, read 
them to us, but being too young I did not pay much attention 
to their contents. My father placed all the objects in a package, 
sealed it with his personal as well as his official seal, and dis- 
patched it personally to Emperor Alexander III. Some time 
later an acknowledgment of receipt reached my father, after 
which he declined to talk about the identity of Emperor Alex- 
ander I and of Fyodor Kuzmich, even forbidding us to talk 
about it, although up rill then we often spoke about it and were 
convinced as to that identity. This question did not trouble 
me then at all, because I thought that it belonged to such his- 
torical facts as the manner of Emperor Paul's death, about which 
it was not the custom to talk. I remember also that in 1882 a 
certain Galkin-Vrasky, who was to be later director of all 
the prisons, arrived in Omsk from St. Petersburg and made a 
special trip to the grave of Fyodor Kuzmich, although it was 
about two hundred miles distant. . . . 

I have also heard something about this question from a certain 
Lashkov, secretary to Governor Count Medem. Lashkov was 
entrusted by the Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich to collect 
material about the person of Fyodor Kuzmich. . . . When he 


returned from his trip to Siberia he was thoroughly convinced 
of the identity of Emperor Alexander I and of Fyodor Kuz- 
mich. But when the book about Fyodor Kuzmich, written by 
Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich, was published we all 
asked Lashkov how could it have happened that the grand 
duke opposed the "legend." By way of an answer Lashkov 
only made an indecisive gesture; as for us we now believed that 
such was the order from higher authorities. 


After returning from Siberia where he had been on a tour of 
inspection and where he had visited the grave of Fyodor Kuz- 
mich, Galkin- Vrasky made his report to Emperor Alexander III 
and told him that everyone in Siberia believed in the identity of 
Emperor Alexander I and Fyodor Kuzmich. The emperor be- 
came pensive, then he got up and pointed to the wall of his study 
where Galkin- Vrasky saw between the portraits of Alexander I 
and Nicholas I that of Fyodor Kuzmich. 

[This story was told personally to A. V. Bolotov by Galkin- 


On July 1 8, 1 90 1 , one of my very highly placed correspondents, 
very competent in the historical questions of the period of Em- 

4 Quoted after P. N. Krupensky: op. cit., pp. 62-63. 

K. N. Mikhailov: Emperor Alexander lStaretz Fyodor Kttzrmcb (in 
Russian), pp. 22-25. 


peror Alexander I [Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich?], 
wrote to me from his estate that for reasons unknown to him, 
K. P. Pobiedonostsev 6 is taking all possible measures to draw 
a veil over the question of Fyodor Kuzmich, although he is 
obviously interested in it. With this aim in view he has "rob- 
bed" the archives of the former Third Department [the political 
secret police] of all the documents relating to Fyodor Kuz- 
mich and has hidden them somewhere. My correspondent 
obtained this information from a former director of the 
Department of Police. This last source was obviously quite 

About three years later when my book on Moscow 
antiquities was published, I received unexpectedly an in- 
vitation from an "old Moscovite" K. P. Pobiedonostsev, 
whom I had never met before, to come to see him for a talk 
about my book. K. P. Pobiedonostsev gave me excellent in- 
formation concerning Moscow antiquities which I later used. 
. . . During one of my next visits when Pobiedonostsev dis- 
cussed the period of Emperor Paul in comparison with that of 
Ivan the Terrible and started to speak about Alexander I, I 
suddenly asked him: "What do you think about Fyodor Kuz- 
mich?" This put him on his guard. "But what do you think 
about him, young man?" he asked in turn and stared at me. 
His whole being, angular, with big ears and large dark spec- 
tacles, seemed to be set on me like the barrel of a pistol. I felt 

"I do not have any personal opinion about him," I answered, 
"but I have heard that the documents relating to Fyodor Kuz- 

The famous procurator of the Holy Synod and personal adviser to the 
emperors Alexander III and Nicholas II. 


mich have been stolen. After this it will be indeed difficult to 
know exactly who he was." 

"Stolen . . . stolen!" Pobiedonostsev repeated with visible 

"But he was Alexander?" I became suddenly bold. "Alex- 
ander I?" 

"I cannot . . . say it! "he answered, and the last words came 
almost in a whisper, as if against his will. 

"Then can you deny it? Can you deny it categorically, ab- 
solutely?" I insisted. 

"To deny it? I do not know . . . one should study the time 
better, the events, the customs . . . perhaps . . . there are 
some contradictions . . . some obscurity . . . some mystery. 
Nevertheless, I recommend that you do not busy yourself 
with this question," he said, hardly concealing his anger. "It 
will be better if you will study more thoroughly the Moscow 
historical and judicial antiquities; there you will certainly find 
more material for your erudition." 

"But Alexander I is also an antiquity," I insisted. 

"Yes," he said, and getting up looked sternly right into my 
eyes. "An antiquity, but it is yet too soon to study it. The time 
has not come. When the time comes . . . then everything will 
be clear. Meanwhile good-by." 

This conversation took place in the Little Palace in Tsarskoye 
Selo where he was spending the summer. The very tone of voice 
and the meaning of Pobiedonostsev's words became strongly 
imprinted in my mind and they still trouble me. This con- 
versation left no doubt to me as to who Fyodor Kuzmich was 
as well as to the fact that Pobiedonostsev knew it. 

Later I was informed by the same very highly placed person 


that Pobiedonostsev had studied and put in order all the docu- 
ments taken from the Third Department and handed them over 
to Emperor Alexander III. It is said that these documents con- 
tain the entire life story of Fyodor Kuzmich from 1 825 to 1864 
(the date of his death) and that K. P. Pobiedonostsev as well 
as Arakcheyev knew how Alexander I had disappeared. 




Riga, 1 9th May 

The death of a certain Victor Basilevsky, descendant of a noble 
Tartar family, is announced from Hungersburg, a little town in 
Estonia. When quite young, Basilevsky, who died at the age 
of ninety, had inherited from his father important Siberian gold 
mines, which had made him one of the richest men in Russia. 
When the Bolshevik revolution broke out he was stripped of 
all his goods and sought refuge in Estonia. In dying, he leaves 
sensational memoirs which are being published and which bring 
to light the mystery of the death of Alexander I, on the sub- 
ject of which Russian historians have given themselves up to 
suppositions of a most varied and least likely nature. Let us 
remember that the tomb of the tsar was found empty and that 
never has it been discovered what became of the embalmed 
body of the emperor. 

About 1 860, Basilevsky rented an estate which he possessed 
in Siberia to a merchant Khromov. The latter, some time later, 
went to see Basilevsky, who was at that time residing in southern 
Russia, and, under the stress of a great emotion related that, on 


the farm which he was exploiting lived for many years a very 
pious Russian, who called himself Fyodor Kuzmich, but whom 
the people had christened sviatoy staretz (the holy settler). 

The mysterious personage was said to accomplish miracles 
and was greatly beloved by all the peasants of the vicinity. 
One day Kuzmich fell seriously ill, and feeling his end was 
coming he sent for Khromov to whom he confessed that he was 
the Emperor Alexander I, whom everyone believed to have 
died of malaria at Taganrog in 1825. 

Before his death the supposed Kuzmich entrusted to Khro- 
mov documentary proofs of his identity, begging him to give 
them as well as a portrait of his to Emperor Alexander II. 

Khromov obtained an audience with the tsar, who kept him 
for two hours and when he left the palace he hastened to reach 
Siberia without speaking to anyone about the interview he had 
just had with the emperor. Basilevsky, however, had the im- 
pression that the latter had been convinced that Kuzmich and 
Alexander I were one and the same person, hence the formal 
injunction made by the emperor to Khromov not to reveal 
anything of their conversation. 

An especially important chapter of the memoirs is the one 
treating of the confidences made to Basilevsky by his confessor, 
Metropolitan Isidor, who revealed to him under the vow of 
secrecy that, on the order of Emperor Alexander II, the body 
of a soldier had been exhumed from the imperial mausoleum of 
Saints Peter and Paul and buried in a cemetery in t 

And lastly, let us add, that Basilevsky, wh^Kac 
his life to this all-absorbing mystery, had wr 
Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, sister of Nic 


at that time in Copenhagen, begging her to tell him whether 
the interview between Alexander II and Khromov had in 
reality enlightened the mystery. The grand duchess replied that 
to her, as well as to the rest of the members of her family who 
were still living, there was not the slightest doubt as to the 
identity of Fyodor Kuzmich and Alexander I. Only the 
Dowager Empress Maria Fyodorovna, recently deceased, 
never replied categorically to the questions which were put 
to her on this subject. 7 




Victor Ivanovich Basilevsky, considered to have been one of 
the richest men in old Russia, died recently in his cottage on 
the shore of the Finnish Gulf, twenty versts from Narva. He 
was ninety years of age. 

Basilevsky was an extraordinary personality. Of an old Rus- 
sian noble family, a millionaire, benefactor, high among the 
powerful, he had outlived the reigns of four emperors. He had 
owned large estates and gold mines in the Ural Mountains and 
in the Lena district, in Siberia. 

In the eighties of the last century he established his residence 
on his estate, Velikino, in the district of Yamburg, from where 
he would go only for the summer to a cottage in Hungersburg 
[now in Estonia] ; there he died after having lost all his estates 
in Russia and after Hungersburg ceased to be a Russian 
watering place. 

7 So far as we know, the Basilevsky memoirs have not as yet been published. 


A great figure of old Russia, a witness of four wars, and of 
four most significant reigns, has gone to the grave in the person 
of this millionaire benefactor. He witnessed the reforms of 
Emperor Alexander II the liberation of the serfs, the intro- 
duction of the jury in the courts, the formation of local self- 

Well educated, talented, an aristocrat, both by birth and by 
family relations, immensely rich, courted by members of the 
imperial family, Basilevsky might have made a brilliant career, 
had he so desired. But he had remained a private citizen all 
his life, refusing any position in the government. 

V. 1. Basilevsky possessed the key to the unraveling of the 
mystery which surrounded the death of the Emperor Alex- 
ander I. He never doubted the identity of Fyodor Kuzmich 
with Emperor Alexander Pavlovich. 

In the sixties of the last century, V. I. Basilevsky leased 
some land in Siberia from a merchant by the name of Khromov, 
who had extended hospitality to Fyodor Kuzmich. During 
the reign of Emperor Alexander III (1881-1894) Khromov, 
very much perturbed, arrived in Velikino and told V. I. Basi- 
levsky the following: 

Feeling the approach of his end, he said, he wanted to share a 
great secret as he knew Basilevsky, having entry to court, could 
help him. Handing over to Basilevsky a picture of Fyodor Kuz- 
mich and a roll of papers, tied together with a string, Khromov 
told Basilevsky that on his deathbed Fyodor Kuzmich con- 
fessed that he was Emperor Alexander I, and begged Khromov 
to deliver the picture and papers into the hands of the reigning 

Khromov failed to execute the last will of Fyodor Kuzmich, 


though he had preserved the picture and the papers. Now he 
had decided, however, to fulfill the promises he had given to 
the hermit. Basilevsky reassured Khromov and promised to 
obtain for him an audience with the emperor. 

Through the good offices of the Grand Duke Vladimir 
Alexandrovich, Basilevsky arranged the desired audience, but 
Khromov failed to return to Velikino, after seeing the em- 
peror, as he had promised Basilevsky he would do. 

This Basilevsky explained as the result of an express order of 
Emperor Alexander III, who, no doubt, convinced of the 
identity of Fyodor Kuzmich with Emperor Alexander I, pre- 
ferred not to have the news divulged. 

Not long before his own death, Basilevsky revealed that the 
Metropolitan Isidor, as a go-between for Khromov and Em- 
peror Alexander III, had confided to him that the tomb of Em- 
peror Alexander I in the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul 
had been opened and the embalmed body taken out of it and 
buried in one of St. Petersburg's cemeteries. 

As is known, when the Bolsheviks opened the coffin of Alex- 
ander I, it was found to be empty. 



On December 31, 1825, Princess Sophie Volkonsky, the 
wife of Prince Peter Volkonsky, wrote a letter to the Dowager 
Empress Maria Fyodorovna in which she said: "I must not be 
afraid to let the mother of our sovereigns know the contents 
of the letters received from my husband [these letters have 
never been discovered] because she cannot be angry at my 


decision to reveal the painful happenings about which she could 
inform the person [Emperor Nicholas I] whose interest it is 
to know of these intimate observations about the emotions of 
our beloved never-to-be-forgotten monarch. I must add that 
my husband does not know and will never know that I am 
writing this letter . . . But I am consoled by the thought that 
what he has seen and what is his firm conviction on the matter 
shall not be lost. Everything that concerns your beloved son 
is a deep remembrance for me and I should like to cherish it 
until my death, after which it will disappear with me." p. 138. 

Dr. Tarasov's nephew, who was a professor at the Yaroslavl 
Lyceum, told his colleague, Professor Behrens, later a senator, 
that his uncle while living in retirement in Tsarskoye Selo never 
attended the requiem services for Alexander I. Only in the 
middle sixties when newspapers reported the death in Siberia 
of the hermit Fyodor Kuzmich did Dr. Tarasov order a requiem 
service for Alexander in the palace church at Tsarkoye Selo 
and attended it in full uniform. When questioned by his family, 
he replied that only now was the time to pray for the repose 
of the soul of Emperor Alexander, and added that it is a great 
secret which will die with him. p. 155. 

Colonel Count N. V. Osten-Sacken, grandson of Count 
Dimitry Osten-Sacken, tells that his grandfather never attended 
requiem services for Emperor Alexander I. But when he re- 
ceived news of the death of Fyodor Kuzmich, he donned his 
full uniform and ordered a requiem service to be performed in 
his house chapel, p. 174. 


K. F. Resnikov sheds some light on why Alexander chose 
the name of Fyodor Kuzmich: 

"Before the revolution my family possessed a ring which 
had been given by Emperor Alexander I. Perhaps even now it 
is preserved by some member of my family in Soviet Russia. 
Its story was told to me by my father who died in 1897. When 
Emperor Alexander I was on his way to Taganrog he stopped 
overnight in the little provincial town of Bely in the province 
of Smolensk. Our house, which was the largest and best in 
town, was requisitioned for his rest. During his short stay, the 
emperor wanted to meet my grandfather and his family. My 
father was then a little over one year old. The emperor took a 
liking to the baby and taking him in his arms he inquired what 
his name was. My grandfather answered: Tyodor.' The em- 
peror also asked my grandfather's name, which was Kuzma. 
Then, still holding the child, the emperor repeated pensively 
his name and patronymic: 'Fyodor Kuzmich/ Before leaving 
the next morning the emperor called my grandfather again 
and presented him with a ring saying that he was giving it to 
his son, Fyodor Kuzmich, and that it should always pass to the 
eldest in the family. When I was still in high school I remember 
how my father gathered us children together, took the ring 
out of a strong box and told us its story. Later when I was 
already an officer and came for a visit from St. Petersburg, I 
examined the ring several times. It was fairly large, with a large 
stone in the middle surrounded by small diamonds. It was in a 
leather case with the initial of Emperor Alexander I surmounted 
by a crown embossed in gold." 

This story was confirmed to the author by other residents 
of the town of Bely. pp. 180-181. 


Countess A. I. Shuvalov, daughter of Count 1. 1. Vorontsov- 
Dashkov, former Minister of the Court and later Viceroy 
of the Caucasus, tells that one day in the late eighties her father 
came home late, visibly agitated. He told his wife and daughter 
that he had just been with the Emperor Alexander III in the 
church of Saints Peter and Paul, because the emperor wanted to 
open the tomb of Alexander I (Count Vorontsov-Dashkov's 
presence was necessary because as Minister of the Court he 
kept the keys of the vault) . When the casket was opened in the 
presence only of the emperor, the Count Vorontsov-Dashkov 
and of four soldiers, who had lifted the lid, it was found to 
be empty. Count I. I. Vorontsov-Dashkov told his wife and 
daughter that what he had revealed was a secret which should 
not be divulged, p. 202. 

The late Duke Michael of Mecklenburg, who was a grandson 
of the Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich, said that in his opinion 
there is very little doubt that the so-called "legend" about 
Fyodor Kuzmich is actually the truth, p. 213. 


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Sverbeyev, D., Memoirs, Moscow, 1 899. 2 vols. (in Russian) 

Talleyrand, Prince M. de, Memoir es, Paris, 1891. 3 vols. 

Tarasov, D. K., Emperor Alexander 1, Petrograd, 1915. (in 

, Memoirs, St. Petersburg, 1872. (in Russian) 

Tarle, E., Bonaparte, New York, 1937. 

, The Continental Blockade, Moscow, 1913. (in Rus- 

, Napoleon's Invasion of Russia, New York, 1942. 

, Talleyrand, Moscow, 1939. (in Russian) 

Tatishchev, S., Alexandre et Napoleon, Paris, 1891. 

, From the Past of Russian Diplomacy, St. Petersburg, 

1890. (in Russian) 

Thomas, B. P., Rosso-American Relations, 1815-1867, Balti- 
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Torngren, Adolf, "Mystiken Kring Alexander I:s dod," in 
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Tolstoy, Comte L., Physiologie de la guerre: Napoleon et la 
campagne de Russie, Paris, 1888. 

Touchard-Lafosse, G., Histoire de Charles XIV (Jean Berna- 
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Tourgenev, N. L, La Russie et les Russes, Paris, 1847. 3 vols. 

Ulmann, H., Russisch-Preussische Politik unter Alexander I und 
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Zakharov, E. Z., The Legend about the Life and Labors of Sta- 
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Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle), 172, 180 

Ab6, University of, 105 

Adams, John Quincy, 98, 99 

Adelaide, Madame, sister of Louis 
XVI, 119 

Admiralty, 28 

Afanasy, Archbishop of Irkutsk, 240 

Agamemnon, 148, 151, 155 

Ajaccio, 59 

Albion, see England 

Alexander I, Emperor of Russia, ac- 
cession to throne, 40; collabora- 
tors, 52ff.; conflict with Napo- 
leon, 59ff.; 2d conflict, mff.; 
contemporary newspaper ac- 
counts, 2570.; early education, 
28ff.; foreign alliances, 646*.; in- 
terest in mysticism, 150-39, i75ff.; 
life as hermit, 238ff.; meeting at 
Tilsit, 7 iff.; official death, 22 iff.; 
personal appearance, iooff.; trip 
to Taganrog, 2136*. 

Alexander II, Emperor of Russia, 248, 
250, 257, 261, 267, 268, 269; see 
also Alexander Nikolayevich, 
Grand Duke 

Alexander III, Emperor of Russia, 
262, 264, 266, 2^, 270, 273 

Alexander Nikolayevich, Grand 
Duke, 248, 261; see also Emperor 
Alexander II 

Alexander the Great of Macedonia, 


Alexandra, Grand Duchess nee Prin- 
cess Charlotte-Louisa of Prussia, 
future Empress Alexandra, wife 
of Emperor Nicholas I, 205, 235 

Alexandra Nikiforovna, 245-48 

Allen, William, 181-83 

Alps, 97 

Alupka, 216 

Amalia, Princess of Hesse-Darmstadt, 
mother of Empress Elisabeth 
Alexeyevna, 32 

America, see United States of Amer- 

Amt-Baublen, 73 

Andrey Vladimirovich, Grand Duke, 

Anisimov, valet of Emperor Alex- 
ander I, 221 

Anna loanovna, Empress of Russia, 50 

Anna Pavlovna, Grand Duchess, 
youngest sister of Emperor Alex- 
ander 1, 96, loo, 156 

Apollo, 93 

Arakcheyev, Count Alexey Andreye- 
vich, 20, 184-91, i93-97 199-^03, 

212, 248, 266 

Archamakov, 23 
Arkharov Regiment, 66 
Asia, 170 



Attila, 120, 148 

Augereau, French revolutionary gen- 
eral, 6 1 

August, Prince, 157 

Austerlitz, 66, 67, 69, 72, 77, 86, no, 
126, 127, 133, 164; Bridge, 151 

Austria, 65, 70, 72, 74, 91, 95-97, 99, 
loo, 114, 120, 142-46, 149, 157- 
60, 163-64, 166-67 

Autun, Bishop of, see Talleyrand 

Azov Sea, 213, 237 

Baden, Duchy of, 32, 64, oo, 155, 182 
Bagration, General Prince Peter, 1 16, 


Baidary, 216 
Bakhchisaray, 217, 218 
Baklashia, Gregory, 262 
Balakina, Olga, 249 
Balaklava, 217 
Balashov, General Aide-de-Camp, 

107, 122, 124, 125 

Balinsky, General, 257, 258, 259, 260 
Balinsky, Professor, 257, 258 
Balkans, 81, 121, 163 
Barclay de Tolly, General, 126, 144 
Bariatinsky, Prince Vladimir, 227, 256, 


Basilevsky, Victor Ivanovich, 266-70 

Bautzen, 143, 144, 151 

Bavaria, Kingdom of, 93, 157 

Bayonne, 91 

Beauharnais, Prince Eugene de, 157 

Behrens, Professor, 271 

Belaya Tserkov, 213 

Belev, 236 

Belgium, 164 

Belousov, George, a priest, 242 

Bely, 272 

Benevent, Prince of, see Tallyrand 

Bennigsen, General Count L., 22, 23, 

Berlin, 10, 134, 142, 176, 180 

Bernadotte, Marshal of France, later 
Crown Prince of Sweden, 112, 

Berthier, Marshal of France, 83 

Bissiam, Bissiamovna, Biskis, nick- 
names, see Catherine Pavlovna 

Black Sea, 04 
Bliicher, General, 146 
Bogdanovich, M. I M Russian historian, 

l l *5 l 
Bogoroditsko-Alexeyevsk monastery, 

2 5 l 

Bogoyavlensk, 239-40 
Bohemia, 146 
Boileau, 193 
Bolotov, A. V., 263 
Bolshevik revolution, 266 
Bolsheviks, 260, 270 
Borodino, 133, 135 
Bosporus, 94 
Brienne, 59 
Bruchsal, 155 
Briinn (Brno), 65 
Brussels, 261 
Budberg, Baron, Russian Minister of 

Foreign Affairs, 83 
Burgundy, 158 
Buturlin, Count, 174 

Campbell, British Commissioner, 160 
Castlercagh, Lord, 153, 158, 159 
Cathcart, Earl of, 237, 259; family, 

256; papers, 256 

Catherine II, called the Great, Em- 
press of Russia, 14-17, 20, 27-33, 
42, 44-45, 82, 173-74* 24* 
Catherine Pavlovna, Grand Duchess, 
Queen of Wurttemberg, sister of 
Emperor Alexander I, 36-38, 80, 
81, 100, 114, 126, 138, 156, 179, 

l8l-82, 207, 2IO 

Caulaincourt, General A. de, Duke of 
Vicence, 63, 90-92, 95, 99, 100, 
no, 143, 148 

Cerebro, 126 

Cervier, Jacques, 257 

Chalons, 166 

Champagne, 158 

Champs Elysees, 149 

Chapsal, 63 

Charlemagne, in 

Charles X, King of France, 213 

Charles XII, King of Sweden, 1 15, 124 

Chateaubriand, 176 

Chatillon, 150 

Chichagov, Admiral, 121 

Choiseul-Gouffier, Countess de, lady- 
in-waiting to Empress Elisabeth 
Alexeyevna, 39, no, 122, 129, 179 

Chuguyev, 195 

Cmna, 37 

Code Napoleon, 104 

Committee of Ministers, 197 

Committee of Public Welfare, 52, 56 

Compiegne, 154 

Conde, princes of, a branch of the 
French royal family, 64 

Constantine Pavlovich, Grand Duke, 
second brother of Emperor Al- 
exander I, 19, 22, 29, 30, 31, 73, 
83, 138, 156, 163, 206, 207, 212, 

Constantinople (Ishtanbul), 81, 82, 


Continental System, 82, 88, 89, 97, 112 

Convention of the French Revolu- 
tion, 52, 6 1 

Copenhagen, 268 

Cossacks, 152, 167; of the Don, 216; 
of the Guard, 149 

Council of State, 155, 234; see also 
State Council 

Crimea, 177, 180, 216-17, 228 

Cuirassier Regiment of the Prussian 
Guard, 149 

Czartoryski, Prince Adam, 33, 34, 52, 
56, 113, 204 

Danube River, 65 

Dashkov, Princess Daria, 14 

Davout, Marshal of France, 112, 119 

Demosthenes, 29 

Denmark, 113, 157 

Department of Police, 264 

Diderot, 131 

Diebich, General Aide-de-Camp, 201, 

219, 224-25, 229, 230 
Directory of the French Revolution, 

Dolgoruky, General Aide-de-Camp 

Prince Peter, 67 
Dolgoruky, Prince, 66, 67, 68, 69, 72, 

114, 126 
Dominican fathers, 180 

INDEX 295 

Don Carlos, 45, 48 

Dresden, 118, 120, 142-43, 145-46, 151, 


Dubasov, Madame A., 257-58 
Dukhobory, 180 
Dumas, General Mathew, 63 
Durand, Baron, 114 
Duroc, Marshal of France, 78, 83 

East Prussia, 72, 118 

Eckartshansen, 173 

Edling, Countess nee Princess 
Sturdza, 136, 175 

E^ypt, 8 1 

Eilau, 77 

Eiler, Major General, 201 

Elba, island, 35, 153, 156, 160, 165 

Elbe River, 141, 142 

Elisabeth Alexeyevna, Empress of 
Russia, wife of Emperor Alex- 
ander I, 32, 35, 131, 136, 155-57, 
213-15, 221-23, 6-*7* *3 2 * *3<* 

Elizabeth I, Empress of Russia, 14, 28 

Elysees Palace, 1 50 

Entile by J. J. Rousseau, 27 

Enghien, Duke d', 64, 90 

England, 14, 56, 63, 65, 72, 74, 75, 76, 
82, 89, 91, 97, 98, in, 112, 126, 
142, 154, 158, 160, 163, 164, 191, 

Erfurt, 92-04, 96-97, no 

Estonia, 266, 268 

Eupatoria, 218 

Europe, 17, 18, 25, 57, 64, 68, 70, 72, 
74, 81, 82, 84, 91, 96, 98, 108, 1 10- 
12, 116, 120, 125, 135, 140, 144, 
148, 151-52, 155-56, 159, 162-64, 
166, 170-71, 176-77, 192, 206, 244 

Eylert, Bishop, 180 

Ezekiel, 132 

Finland, 82, 89, 112, 113 

Finnish Gulf, 268 

Fontainebleau, 153 

Foty, Archimandrite, 197-200 

France, 25, 63-65, 68, 77, 79, 81, 89, 
95-97, 112, 114, 116, 119, 122, 130, 
134, 142, 144, 147, 148, 150, 153- 
55, 160, 161, 165, 176, 213 

296 INDEX 

Francis I, Einpcror of Austria, 65, 70, 
99, 144, 157, 160, 167 

Franz- Joseph, Emperor of Austria, 

Frederick William III, King of Prus- 
sia, 71, 73, 77-79, 120, 144, 147, 
149, 154, 156, 160, 163, 167, 181 

French guard, see Old Guard 

French Republic, 63, 64 

French Revolution, 17 

French Senate, 155 

Friedland, 71, 72, 77, 86 

Friends, Society of, 181, 182, 183; 
see also Quakers 

Fyodor Kuzmich, 239-51, 255-56, 258, 
260, 262-73 

Fyodorov, valet of Emperor Alex- 
ander I, 221 

Gagarin, Princess Anna, mistress of 

Emperor Paul I, 21, 23 
Galkin-Vrasky, 262, 263 
Gatchina, 15-17, 20, 27, 30, 31, 34, 

Gedimin, Grand Duke of Lithuania, 


Genoa, 160 

Germany, 147, 148, 191 
Godin, Emile, French agent, 04 
Golitsyn, Prince Alexander Niko- 

layevich,49, 107, 130, 131, 172-74, 

191, 197-200, 214 

Great Britain, 98; see also England 
Great Court, see St. Petersburg 
Great Russia, 94, 195 
Grellet, Stephen, 181-83 
Grudzinska, Julia, later Princess 

Lowicz, 156 

Gruzdyov, Professor Serge, 260 
Gruzino, 187, 190-92, 197, 199, 200-3 
Guards' Artillery, 209 
Gursuf, 216 
Gustav IV, King of Sweden, 89 

Hague, The, 261 
Hamburg, in 
Hapsburg, in 
Harun-al-Rashid, 38 
Heidelberg, 177 

Heilbrunn, 174 

Herzen, Alexander, 137 

Hofburg, 156, 158 

Hohenlohe, Abbot Prince Alex- 
ander von, 1 80 

Holland, in, 164, 216 

Holstein-Beck, Prince of, 157 

Holy Alliance, 166-67, l &9 

Holy Land, 237 

Holy Synod, 155, 174, 178, 260, 264 

Horse Guards Regiment, 20, 23, 73, 

Hugo, Victor, 61 

Hungersburg, 266, 268 

Hussar Regiment of the Prussian 
Guard, 149, 247 

Iliad, 148, 155 

Imperial Council, 92; see also State 

Imperial guard, French, see Old 

Guard of Napoleon 
Imperial guard, Russian, see names of 

separate Regiments 
India, 14, 90 
Institut de France, 261 
Institute of International Law, 261 
Irkutsk, 251 
Isaiah, 132, 138 
Isidor, metropolitan, 267 
Italy, 72, 159, 164, 213 
Ivan IV the Terrible, tsar of Mos- 

covy, 44, 264 
Izmailovsky Regiment, 24, 66 

Jena, 71, 72 

Jeremiah, 132 

Jerome Bonaparte, King of West- 
phalia, 83 

Jerusalem, 179, 237 

Jesuits, 1 80 

Jomini, General, 144 

Joseph Napoleon Bonaparte, King of 
Naples and Sicily and later King 
of Spain, 91 

Josephine de Beauharnais, Empress of 
France, first wife of Napoleon, 

Juan, Gulf of, 160, 161 

Julius Caesar, 76 
Jung-Stilling, 173 

Kaluga, 236 

Kamenny Ostrov, palace of, 211 

Karamzin, N., novelist and historian, 

Karazin, Basil Nazarovich, 45, 46, 47, 

481 49i 55 

Karl-Friedrich, Prince of Baden, fa- 
ther of Empress Elisabeth Alex- 
eye vna, 32 

Karlsruhe, 182 

Kassagovsky, 262 

Kazan, 115, 136; cathedral of Our 
Lady of, 136, 236 

Khan Palace, 217 

Kharkov, 48 

Khromov, Simeon, 248-51, 266-70 

Kiesewetter, Alexander, Russian his- 
torian, 63 

Kiev, 178, 204, 259 

Kleinmichel, General Count, 243 

Kluchevsky, V. O., Russian historian, 


Knesebeck, General, 115 
Kochubey, Count Victor, 26, 49, 52, 

56, 102, 204 

Konigsberg, 92, 117, 176 
Komarovsky, Count, 32 
Kosciuszko, Thadeus, 163 
Koshelev, Rodion, 173, 174 
Kovno (Kaunas), 46, 122 
Krasnorechensk, 240, 245 
Krasnoufimsk, 238, 239 
Krasnoye Selo, 208, 210 
Krasny, 116 
Kremenchug, 246 
Kremlin, 38 

Kriidener, Baron de, 176 
Krudener, Baroness de, 174, 175, 176, 


Krupensky, P. N., 261, 263 
Kulm, 146, 151 
Kurakin, Prince, 16, 74, 79, 83, 101, 

102, no 

Kurakin, Prince Alexis, 101 
Kurland, Duchess of, 96 
Kurland, Duchy of, 54 

INDEX 297 

Kutaisov, Count, 189 

Kutuzov of Smolensk, Field-Marshal, 
Most Serene Prince Michael, 65, 
67, 121, 126-28, 133-35, 37t !4!t 
142, 152, 241, 248 

La Ferronays, Count A. de, 62 

La Fontaine, 131 

La Harpe, Frederic-Cesar de, tutor of 

Emperor Alexander I, 29, 30, 31, 

44* 5*t 53 57 IOO *5 2 ^3, 165, 

204, 248 

Lajbach (Ljubljana), 172 
Lamberti, Austrian Marshal of the 

Court, 69 

La Moussaye, Count de, 170 
Laplas, 48 
Lashkov, 262, 263 
Latyshov, Ivan, 240, 241, 242, 243, 

248, 249 
Laure, 260; see also St. Alexander 

Nevsky monastery 
Lauriston, Count, no, 117, 137 
Lavater, 173 
Legion of Honor, Order of the, 76, 

8 ? 
Leipzig, 145, 147, 148, 151 

Liberte, French newspaper, 257 

Lieven, Count, later Prince, 182 

Ligne, Prince Charles de, 33, 158 

Lille, 161 

Lithuania, 115, 116, 118, 124, 125, 173 

Little Court, see Gatchina 

Little Palace, 265 

Little Russia, 46, 47, 48, 93, 94, 137, 


Liubinov, Lev, 270 
Lloyd's of London, 259 
Lobanov-Rostovsky, Prince, 79, 83, 89 
Lowenhielm, Count, 112 
London, 142, 181, 191 
Londonderry, Marquis of, 142 
Lopukhin, Governor, 49 
Lopukhin, President of the Senate, 

212, 234 

Louis XVI, King of France, 119, 153 
Louis XVII, Dauphin of France, 255 
Louis XVIfl, King of France, 151, 

i54 '55. '59. '<$' 

298 INDEX 

Louisa, Queen of Prussia, 64 

Louisa-Augusta, Princess of Baden- 
Durlach, see Elisabeth Alex- 
eyevna, Empress of Russia, wife 
of Emperor Alexander I 

Lovelace, 130 

Lutzen, 143, 151 

Mably, 131 

MacDonald, General, 146 

Mack, Austrian general, 65 

Madison, President James, 98 

Madrid, 91 

Maistre, Count Joseph de, 104, 138 

Maltese Order, 188; see also St. John 
of Jerusalem, Order of 

Maly-Yaroslavetz, 138 

Marengo, 72 

Maria Alexandrovna, Grand Duch- 
ess, the future Empress Alexan- 
dra, wife of Emperor Alexander 
II, 248 

Maria Antonovna, Princess Sviato- 
polk-Chetvertinsky, in marriage 
Naryshkin, mistress of Emperor 
Alexander I, 34, 35 

Maria Fyodorovna, Empress of Rus- 
sia, second wife of Emperor 
Paul I, 15, 18, 21, 32, 54, 92, 224, 
225, 227, 232, 233, 235, 236, 268, 

Maria-Louisa, Archduchess, second 
wife of Napoleon, 101, 143 

Maria Pavlovna, Grand Duchess, sis- 
ter of Emperor Alexander I, 92 

Mariupol, 216, 219, 220 

Marquis Posa, 45, 49 

Martens, Professor Frederic, 261 

Martos, sculptor, 190 

Maskov, courier, 218, 220, 228-30, 


Massena, French revolutionary gen- 
eral, 6 1 

Mecklenburg, Duke Michael, 273 

Medem, Count, 262 

Mediterranean Sea, 237, 259 

Melisino, General P., 186 

Memel, 64, 71, 143 

Merfeldt, General, 147 

Meshcherinov, General Aide-de- 

Camp, 261 

Meshcherinov, Nicholas, 261 
Metternich, Count (later Prince) 

Clemens Wenzel Lothar, 61, 62, 

1 10, 115, 116, 143, 146, 157, 158, 

160-63, 171, 203, 244 
Michael Pavlovich, Grand Duke, 

youngest brother of Emperor 

Alexander I, 205, 233-35, 239, 273 
Michaud, General, 135 
Middle Ages, 15, 50 
Mikhailov, K. N., 263 
Mikhailovsky Castle, 13, 17, 20, 21, 

22, 25, 87 
Mikhailovsky-Danilevsky, General 

Alexander, 172 

Miloradovich, General Count, 234 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 261 
Minkina, Anastasia, mistress of Count 

Arakcheyev, 200, 201 
Minsk, 115, 116 
Molochnaia River, 216 
Monastery of the Caves, 204 
Montesquieu, 131 
Mordvinov, Admiral, 87 
Moreau, General, 144, 145, 146 
Mortier, Marshal of France, 95 
Moscovia, 181 
Moscow, 38, 66, 95, 117, 124, 126, 128, 

133, 134, 136-38, 148, 158, 174, 192, 

218, 235, 241, 257, 264 
Moskova, battle of, 135 
Muller, Adam, 176 
Munich, 175 
Murat, Joachim Napoleon, Grand 

Duke of Berg and Cleves, King 

of Naples and Sicily, 83, 91, 137, 

Muravyov, Michael Nikitich, tutor 

of Emperor Alexander I, 29, 30, 

Muravyov, Secretary of State, 201 

Naples, 91, 114, 163 

Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of 
France, 14, 25, 35, 58-62, 64-67, 
70-84, 87-97, 99-101, 108, 110-16, 
118-30, 132-38, 140-48, 151-54, 

156, 160-67, 169, i? 1 * *93 H*. 

Napoleon, Prince Joachim, Grand 
Duke of Berg and Cleves, 
brother-in-law of N. Bonaparte, 

9 1 

Napoleonic Empire, 193 

"Napoleonides, Les? 94 

Narbonne, Count de, 118, 119, 120 

Narva, 268 

Naryshkin, Dimitry, husband of Em- 
peror Alexander's mistress, 35, 

Naryshkin, Emmanuel, son of Em- 
peror Alexander I, 35 

Naryshkin, Princess, see Maria An- 

Naryshkin, Sophie, daughter of Em- 
peror Alexander I, 35, 208 

Naryshkin, Zinaida, daughter of Em- 
peror Alexander I, 35 

Nathalia Alexeyevna, Grand Duch- 
ess, first wife of Paul I, 14, 15 

Nation Beige, Belgian newspaper, 266 

Naval Hospital at Croustadt, 260 

Netherlands, 100 

Neva River, 98, 129, 198 

Nevierovsky, General, 116 

Ney, Marshal of France, 255 

Nicholas I, Emperor of Russia, 205, 
206, 214, 227, 232-36, 244, 246, 
248, 260, 263, 271 

Nicholas II, last Emperor of Russia, 
36, 251, 264, 267 

Nicholas Mikhailovich, Grand Duke, 
Russian historian, 29, 105, 227, 
256, 262, 263, 264 

Nicholas Pavlovich, Grand Duke, 
second brother of Emperor Alex- 
ander I, see Nicholas I 

Niemen River, 46, 72, 73, 75, 77, 83, 
87, in, 115-17, 119-22, "4, '4 

Nizhny-Novgorod (Gorky), 107 

Northern Society, 234, 235 

Norway, 113 

Notre Dame of Paris, 161 

Novgorod, 187, 194, 199 

Novossiltsov, Nicholas, 52, 56, 63, 88, 
103, 166, 204 

INDEX 299 

241, Novoye Russkoye Slovo, Russian 
newspaper in New York, 268 

Odessa, 260 

Old Guard of Napoleon, 75, 76, 83, 

93, 160 

Olenev, an old soldier, 243 
Olga AJexandrovna, Grand Duchess, 

sister of Nicholas II, 267 
Olmiitz, 65, 67 
Olympus, 120 
Omsk, 261, 262 
Orange, Prince of, brother-in-law of 

Emperor Alexander I, 216 
Oreanda, 216 
Orekhovo, 218, 219 
Orlov, Count Alexis, 13 
Orlov, Count Gregory, 14 
Orlov-Chesmensky, Countess Anna, 


Ostend, 158 
Osten-Sacken, Count Dimitry E., 246, 

247, 259, 260, 271 
Osten-Sacken, Count N. V., 271 
Ottoman Empire, see Turkey 
Oudinot, General, 146 

Pahlen, Count, 13, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 
40, 41, 43, 53, 54, 127, 185, 248, 251 

Palermo, 158 

Palestine, 259 

Panin, Count Ivan, 14 

Pantin Gate, 149 

Paramonov, 243 

Paris, 93, 116, 148-51, i53'55 161-^ 
165, 176, 213, 257, 260 

Parny, 131 

Paul I, Emperor of Russia, 13-25, 27, 
28, 30-32, 40-42, 45-47, 50-55, 63, 
64, 66, 75, 128, 174, 184-91, 200, 
241, 251, 262, 264 

Pavlovsk, 1 8 

Penn, William, 181 

Perekop, 218 

Perigord, 158 

Perm, 18, 263 

Peter I the Greai 

17. 44, 54, 
Peter III, Em 

300 INDEX 

Philip II, King of Spain, 48 

Place de la Concorde, 148-49 

Pleshcheyev, S. I., 173 

Plutarch, 29 

Pobiedonostsev, K. P., 264-66 

Pochayev, Our Lady of, 239; monas- 
tery of, 246 

Poinsett, Joel R~, 08 

Poland, 35, 56, 113, 114, 125, 159, 163, 
164, 206 

Polikarp, Father, 245 

Poltava, 124 

Poniatowski, Prince, pretender to the 
throne of Poland, 114, 163 

Popova, Natalia, 249 

Portugal, 91 

Pradt, Abbe de, 132 

Prague, 143, 144 

Preobrazhensky Regiment, 23, 76, 83, 
187, 1 88 

Provence, Count of, see Louis XVIII 

Prussia, 96, 120, 163, 175; relations 
with France, 64, 65, 72, 79; with 
Russia, 64, 70, 71, 74, 142-44, 159, 
164, 166 

Prussian army, 15; envoy, 18; guard, 

Pultney Hotel, 182 

Pyrenees, 97 

Quakers, 181, 183; see also Friends, 
Society of 

Razumovsky, Count, 158 

Regensburg, 64 

Repuin, Prince, 14 

Resnikov, K. F., 272 

Review of St. Petersburg, The, 102 

Rhine, 27, 64, 97, 129, 147, 152, 162, 208 

Riga, 176, 266 

Roanoke Colony, 255 

Romanov dynasty, 258 

Rosque, 52 

Rostopchin, Count, 20, 126 

Rousseau, Jean Jacques, 27, 131 

Rumiantsov, Count, 99, 117, 138 

Russia, 16, 10, 25, 33-34, 39, 44, 46, 47, 
5-53 55-56, 63-65, 68, 71-72, 74, 
77-79, 81-82, 87-92, 94-99, 100-1, 

103-4, 1Q 6 Io8 1 10-12, 115-16, 
IIO-20, 123, 125-26, 128-29, 132- 

33* *35 37-38. *4t *4 2 -44 S* 
155. i59-6i, 163-64, 167, 169-73, 
177-78, 180-81, 183-84, 186, 201, 
203, 212-13, 235. 237, 241, 244-45, 
257, 261, 266, 268-69 

Russian Empire, 14, 21, 42, 48, 54, 98, 
170, 226 

Russian-Japanese War, 260 

Russian Orthodox Church, 167, 174, 
180, 199 

Russian State, 51, 89 

Sabler, Procurator of the Holy 
Synod, 260 

Sablukov, 20 

St. Alexander Nevsky, 240; monas- 
tery of , 2 1 1 ; Order of, 187; casket 
of, 211 

St. Andrew, Order of, 76, 83, 89 

Saint Catherine, day of, 158 

Saint-Cyr, General, 145, 146 

Saint-Denis Gate, 149 

St. George, 200; monastery of, 217; 
Order of, 140 

Saint Helena, island, 61, 166 

St. John of Jerusalem, Order of, 190; 
see also Maltese Order 

Saint-Julien, Count de, 114 

Saint Martin, 173 

St. Petersburg (Leningrad), 13, 15-17, 
19-20, 31, 52, 55, 62, 65, 90, 92, 97, 
98-99, 101, 117, 123-24, 126, 129- 

30, 135, 158, 170, 172-74, 178, 180, 
183, 185, 187, 192, 198-99, 213-14, 
218, 224, 232-37, 242, 246, 251, 
257 259-62, 270, 272; court of, 15, 

31, 34, 64, 82, 88-89, 94, 113; uni- 
versity of, 261 

Saints Peter and Paul, cathedral of, 
258; church of; 238, 273; fortress 
of, 236; mausoleum of, 270 

Sanglain, General Aide-de-Camp de, 
63, 107, 121 

Sardinia, 104 

Sardinia-Piedmont, 164 

Savary, General Duke de Rovigo, 679 
69, 88, 89, 90, 94 



Saxony, 92, 93. 145* *59t 163, 166 
Schiller, Johann Christoph Friedrich 

von, 48 
Schwarzenbcrg, Prince, 99, 144, 145, 

146, 147, 149 
Secret Expedition, 50 
Semyonovsky Regiment, 22, 42, 46, 55 
Senate, 104, 155 
Senate Square, 234 
Seraphim, Metropolitan of St. Peters- 
burg, 211, 212, 234 
Servan, General, 193 
Sevastianov, a hermit, 65, 70, 74, 86, 

133, 166 

Sevastopol, 217, 259; Bay of, 217 
Shikhmatov, 232 

Shilder, N. K n Russian historian, 29 
Shishkov, Admiral, 87 
Shuvalov, Count Andrey, fiance of 

Sophia Naryshkin, 35 
Shuvalov, Countess A. I., 273 
Siberia, 14, 18, 61, 238, 230, 242, 243, 

244, 246, 250, 251, 255, 260, 261, 

263, 266, 267, 268, 269 
Sicily, 91 

Simferopol, 216, 257 
Skariadn, 24 

Smolensk, 66, 1 15, 1 16, 272 
Soltykov, Count, 122, 141 
Soltykov, Count Nicholas, 186 

hie-Dorothea, Princess of Wurt- 

temberg, see Maria Fyodorovna, 

Empress of Russia, second wife 

of Paul I 

Soviet Russia, 272 
Spain, 91 

Spanish Cortes, 126 
Spasky, Peter Nikitich, see Foty, 


Speransky, Michael, 101-6, 204 
State Council, 104; see also Council 

of State 

State Duma, 104 
State Office for Foreign Religions, 


Steinau, 141 
Stoff regen. Dr., physician of Empress 

Elisabeth Alexeyevna, 223, 224, 

Straits of Constantinople (Darda- 
nelles), 94 

Strakhovsky, Leonid I ? 256 

Stroganov, Count Alexis Sergeyevich, 
1 8, 92, 204 

Stroganov, Count Paul, 52, 56 

Stuttgart, 175 

Suvorov, Field-Marshal Alexander, 
127, 241 

Sweden, 65, 82, 89, 112, 113, 115, 124 

Swedenborg, 173 

Swedish Pomerania, 112 

Switzerland, 164 

Syria, 81 

Tacitus, 29 

Taganrog, 212-18, 220, 221, 224, 227, 
228, 231, 233, 235-37, 255, 250, 
260, 261, 267, 272; Bay of, 237 

Talleyrand-Perigord, Charles Mau- 
rice de, Prince of Benevent, 64, 
79, 82, 83, 96, 97, 150, 151, 158, 
159, 160, 161 

Tarasov, Dr. Dimitry, 209, 210, 217, 

Tarurino, 137 

Tatishchev, N. A., 257 

Tauentzien, Count, envoy of Prussia 
to the court of Emperor Paul I, 

Taurida, 257 

Tavrichesky Palace, 85 

Third Department, 264, 266; see also 
Department of Police 

Tilsit, 72, 73, 77-83, 85, 89, 91-95, ioi, 
103, 106, no, in, 136, 152, 164; 
Treaty of, 82, 87, 88, 89, 97 

Tohl, Major, 69 

Tolstoy, Count Nicholas A., chief 
marshal of the court, 78, 83, 92 

Tomsk, 248, 249, 250, 251 

Toulon, 60 

Troppau (Opava), 172 

Troshchinsky, Minister of State, 45, 


Tsarskoye Selo, 172, 208, 235, 265, 271 
Tuileries Palace, no, 154, 161 
Tula, 236 
Turkey, 68, 82, 90, 121 

302 INDEX 

Tver (Kalinin), 38 

Tverskaya, street in Moscow, 38 

Ukraine, see Little Russia 

Ulm, 65 

United States of America, 82, 98, 99 

Urjitz, 69 

Valaam, 178 

Valerie by Baroness de Krudener, 

Vandamme, General, 146 

Vasilievna, Anna, 251 

Vassian, monk, 178 

Velikie Luki, 126 

Velikino, 268, 269, 270 

Verona, 172, 180 

Vertus, 166, 177 

Vicence, Duke of, see Caulaincourt 

Viegel, F. F., 88, 118 

Vienna, 65, 72, 95, 99, 134, 156, 159, 
160, 161, 1 66, 175, 180, 244; Con- 
gress of, 156-58, 160, 162 

Vietinghoff, Barbara Juliana von, see 
Krudener, Baroness de 

Vilno (Wilno, Vilnaus), 71, 115, 117, 
118, 121, 122, 124 

Vitrolles, 150 

Vladimir Alexandrovich, Grand 
Duke, 270 

Volga River, 115, 158 

Volkonsky, Prince Nicholas, 175, 193 

Volkonsky, Prince Peter, 100, 209, 
210, 213, 216, 221-27, 229, 230, 
232, 240, 270 

Volkonsky, Princess Sophie, 270 

Voltaire, 131, 193 

Vorontsov, Count, 216 

Vorontsov, Count S. R., 88 

Vorontsov-Dashkov, Count I. L, 273 

Vozrozhdenie, Russian newspaper in 
Paris, 257, 260 

Walewska, Countess Maria, 35 

Warsaw, 156, 206, 225, 232, 233, 234; 
Duchy of, 118 

Waterloo, 162, 166 

Weimar, 92, 97, 143 

Weiroter, Austrian general, 67, 69 

Wellington, Duke of, 167 

Westminster Meeting House, 182 

Westphalia, Kingdom of, 83, 93 

Whitworth, Lord, 1 10 

Wilhelmine, Princess of Hesse- 
Darmstadt, see Nathalie Alex- 
eyevna, Grand Duchess 

William, Prince, brother of King of 
Prussia, 157 

Wilson, General Sir Robert, 141 

Winter Palace, 28, 42, 48, 85, 106, 198, 

2 34 

Wischau, 67 

Wrede, General, in, 132 
Wurttemberg, Crown Prince of, 156, 


Wurttemberg, Kingdom of, 93, 207 
Wurttemberg, Prince Eugene of, 150 
Wylie, Sir James, Bt., 69, 209, 210, 

2l8, 219, 221, 222, 223, 224, 225, 
226, 227, 229, 230, 231 

Yakovlev, father of Alexander Her- 

zen, 137 
Yamburg, 268 
Yaroslavl Lyceum, 271 
Yurie v monastery, 199 

Zakret, 121, 122 

Zimri, 54 

Znamenskoye, 218 

Zubov, Count Nicholas, 24, 54 

Zubov, Prince Platon, 24 

'Books That j 

The Norton imprint on a 
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